Bopanna and Niemenin crash out in the quarterfinals at Delray Beach losing to Butorac and Soares

DUBAI: Novak Djokovic closed up a little on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the top of the world rankings by winning his 12th career title at the Dubai Open on Saturday. The top-seeded World No. 3 from Serbia overcame the brilliantly mobile Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3, and in some ways it was a slight surprise that Djokovic won the final with a little to spare.

He had not been in the greatest of form coming into the tournament, nor had he found it easy to deal with the tight schedule between the Marseille and Dubai tournaments, or the hot weather.

But having survived a marathon in the sweltering heat against Gilles Simon of France the day before, he now showed his resilience as well as the solidity of his ground-strokes with a gritty performance.

“It’s a special night for me,” Djokovic said. “But it’s more than that. This win in Dubai is going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I am very happy.”

Despite that the match was as strange as the weather, which had been dusty and with limited visibility, gradually depositing fine sand on the court. There were plenty of well-contested, lengthy rallies, but too many of them ended with unexpected mistakes.

The Serb let slip leads of 4-2 and 5-3 while the Spaniard looked as though he had recovered enough to take it to a tie-break, only to play a disappointing final game to the set.

There were five breaks of serve in all. But Djokovic played a brilliant second point in taking the final game, eschewing spin, and launching into five or six enormous flat forehands, and seemed to have taken encouragement from that.

Keeping up pressure

He kept Ferrer under pressure in his opening service game of the second set. Ferrer tried an ambitious inside out drive which slid just wide of the sideline and proved to be two inches out.

That put him down break point, on which he tried a rare foray the net, where he put an angled stop volley out.

This put Djokovic 2-0 up, and he consolidated to make it 3-0, and 4-1. But at 40-15 on his serve, about to reach 5-2, he faltered.

But it was only a brief respite, for Ferrer could not take the chance he had created.

Instead he double faulted to fall back 3-5 and Djokovic closed out the match with an ace.

Monfils meets Almagro

In the Acapulco Open in Mexico, second-seeded Gael Monfils of France defeated fifth-seeded Jose Acasuso of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals on Friday.

In the final, he will play Spain’s Nicolas Almagro who beat Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina 6-4, 6-4.

Top-seeded Venus Williams beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-3 on Friday to reach the women’s final.

In the final, Williams will face defending champion Flavia Pennetta who reached her sixth consecutive final at the event with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over 2004 champion Iveta Benesova.

Fish edges Serra

American Mardy Fish moved one step closer to becoming the first top-seed ever to win the Delray Beach International on Friday, prevailing 7-6(2), 7-6(4) over Frenchman Florent Serra in the quarterfinals.

Fish, who dropped just six points on serve, thrived in both tiebreaks of a close contest to reach the semifinals as he bids for a third career ATP title.

Five top seeds have reached the final since this event began in 1993.

And none has ever claimed the title, but Fish is the only of the semifinalists to have captured an ATP World Tour title.

In the semifinals, Fish will face seventh-seed Jeremy Chardy after the Frenchman advanced with a 7-6(7), 7-6(3) victory over Marcos Baghdatis.

Christophe Rochus reached his first semifinal since 2006 by defeating Stefan Koubek 6-3, 7-6 and he will play Evgeny Korolev, who beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Rohan Bopanna and Jarrko Niemenin crashed out of the doubles after losing their quarterfinal match 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 to fourth seeds Eric Butorac and Bruno Soares.

The results: At Dubai (ATP Dubai Open): Singles: Final: Novak Djokovic bt David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3. Semifinals: David Ferrer bt Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-2.

At Delray Beach (ATP Delray Beach International Championships): Quarterfinals: Christophe Rochus bt Stefan Koubek 6-3, 7-6(6); Jeremy Chardy bt Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(7), 7-6(3). Mardy Fish bt Florent Serra 7-6(2), 7-6 (4); Evgeny Korolev bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-2. Doubles: Eric Butorac & Bruno Soares bt Rohan Bopanna & Jarrko Niemenin 6-4, 3-6, 8-10.

At Acapulco (ATP & WTA Acapulco Open): Semifinals: Men: Gael Monfils bt Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-4; Nicolas Almagro bt Martin Vassallo Arguello 6-4, 6-4. Women: Venus Williams bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-3; Flavia Pennetta bt Iveta Benesova 6-3, 6-3. — Agencies

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper