Wawrinka wins Dubai title after 'crazy tie-breaker'
Stan Wawrinka won his ninth straight final with a 6-4, 7-6 (15/13) defeat of Marcos Baghdatis to clinch the Dubai ATP title on Saturday after a "crazy tiebreaker".
The French Open champion from Switzerland claimed the 13th title of his career and second of the season after Chennai, improving to 13-2 in 2016.
The match lasted for almost two hours, with Wawrinka leading 4-1 in the tiebreaker but forced to go the distance as he saved five set points before winning when a Baghdatis return went wide on a fourth match point.
"Until 6-all in the tiebreak I was always up with a mini-break. I did I think two double faults and two or three, three quick mistakes," the winner said.
"Then it started to be all about nerves - 6-6, 7-7, 10-10. You try to stay there, try to play simple, aggressive. It and was good to finish it in two sets."
The 30-year-old came to the emirate as second seed having not played the tournament in eight years and without a match win until getting through the first round.
"It's an amazing end of week, for sure. It was a tough beginning, but I was always trying to fight, always trying to improve day by day even if I wasn't playing great at the beginning," Wawrinka said.
"I'm really happy to have another trophy. It's an amazing feeling, especially today as I was playing some really good tennis. It was a tough final."
He added: "This was my best match of the week, I'm happy with my level today. I had to fight until the end - it was a quite crazy tiebreaker."
Wawrinka, the world number four, lost his last final in June, 2013 at the grasscourt event at 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.
"I've had a great run at finals. When I get to them I really want to win. You are carrying a lot of confidence from during the week," he said.
"I've always wanted to come back to Dubai, I was last here a long time ago. I lifted my level during the week and improved every day."
Wawrinka had to fight through the growing tension in what became one of the tightest finishes in the the event's 24-year-history.
Baghdatis now stands 0-5 in finals since winning his last title at Sydney in 2010.
The Cypriot has now lost all six times he has faced Wawrinka.
Baghdatis called his performance "a small light that I see in the tunnel".
"I'm happy I'm back and playing this kind of tennis now. It's just to continue improving, and play at this level throughout the year."
He added: "I was a bit unlucky in the tiebreaker, that was the difference. But more matches throughout the year at this level would make me go in there and believe from the beginning that I can win, not wait three, four games and start believing.
"I'm playing very good tennis. This week I think I was a bit lucky, but I also found a way to win. I didn't win the tournament but I won a lot more - I won my confidence back."
“We have enjoyed an absorbing two weeks of often stunning competition, with several new faces coming to the fore and playing at the very highest level alongside names that are more familiar,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.
“We congratulate Stan Wawrinka on winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the first time in a tremendous match. We also congratulate Marcos Baghdatis on his success in reaching the final. We look forward to welcoming them both back to Dubai next year for our 25th anniversary celebrations.”
Feliciano Lopez was denied compensation for his defeat in the singles semi-finals as he teamed with Marc Lopez for the doubles final, but the pair failed to take advantage of two match points as Italians Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi won 6-2 3-6 14-12 in their first final together. The result denied the Spanish pair a double Middle East triumph after they claimed the Doha title in January.
“The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has crowned two new singles champions this year,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Sara Errani eagerly took her opportunity when a number of the women were unable to play due to injury and illness and won the final at her second attempt, and Stan Wawrinka has returned to Dubai after an absence of eight years to add another title to those he earned at the Australian and French Opens.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
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