Novak Djokovic had to work over two days amid an overnight rainstorm interruption to finally defend a career title, with the Serb defeating Russian Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 to win the Barclays Championships on Sunday.
Djokovic and seventh seed Youzhny were forced off court on Saturday night as the skies opened in the desert, flooding many streets in a city, which sees only a few days of rain per year.
The Serb world number two led 7-5, 2-0 as play resumed on Sunday.
But it was no simple task for the winner of 16 previous trophies, including the 2008 Australian open to finally get the job done over Youzhny.
Djokovic improved to 4-3 over Youzhny, who beat him a fortnight ago in Rotterdam in two tiebreak sets.
“I was motivated to win another title and get my revenge back,” said Djokovic, who produced his 12th double-fault of a frustrating effort on the first of three match points. “Mikhail’s a very talented player.
“He’s able to play defensive and offensive really well and slice.
When he’s on a roll, he deserves to definitely with the quality wise to be Top 5. He’s been playing here top level for many years.” Djokovic and Youzhny were twice interrupted on Saturday night by the storm, which delayed air traffic in the emirate — including delaying Roger Federer and family’s flight to Zurich by three hours until 5 am.
The reprise on Sunday was even more of a battle, with Djokovic twice losing breaks in the second set and doing the same in the third before salvaging victory by a second break of the Russian for 5-3 followed up by a tough hold for victory.
Djokovic will be heading straight to Belgrade for next weekend’s Davis Cup World Group first-round match against the US.
The Serb win despite losing serve six times while breaking Youzhny seven times. Both contenders came to the court with 10-2 match records as Djokovic won his first title of the season.