Stan Wawrinka won his ninth straight final with a 6-4, 7-6 (13) defeat of Marcos Baghdatis to clinch the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships ATP title on Saturday after a “crazy tiebreaker”.
The reigning French Open champion from Switzerland claimed the 13th title of his career and second of the season after the Chennai Open in January, 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 was good to finish it in two sets.”
The 30-year-old came to the emirate as the 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 Wimbledon warm-up 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 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.”