Roger Federer began his campaign for a record sixth Dubai Championships title with a 6-1, 6-4, win over Benjamin Becker of Germany on Monday. ”I’m extremely happy with today’s match,” Federer said. ”Coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling.” The eighth-ranked Federer has never dropped a set to the 93rd-ranked Becker in four matches. Federer and top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who will play his first match on Tuesday, have won nine of the last 11 titles here in Dubai.
– Venus Williams won her 45th career WTA title at the Dubai Championships in an impressive 6-3, 6-0 victory over Alize Cornet of France in the final on Saturday. The 44th-ranked Williams, playing courtesy of a wild card, also won this title in 2009 and 2010. ”Everything is falling together.” The former world No. 1, Williams won all five of her matches this week in straight sets.
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Croatia’s Marin Cilic won the Delray Beach Open on Sunday for his 11th ATP World Tour title and second in three weeks, beating Kevin Anderson 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-4 in 3 hours, 8 minutes.
Rafael Nadal returned from a troublesome back injury to win the Rio Open on Sunday, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3, 7-6 (3). Nadal’s victory comes four weeks after losing the Australian Open final to underdog Stanislas Wawrinka after tweaking his back while warming up. Nadal, who had to fend off two match points in the semifinal against Pablo Andujar, looked more comfortable in the final and improved his record on clay to 298 wins and 21 losses, the best in the Open Era. Nadal has won three times in Brazil and hopes to return next year.
Third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia showed he has the temperament for big matches, extending his perfect record in finals to 5-0 after beating defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (5), 6-4 to win the Open 13 title on Sunday. Gulbis, ranked 23rd, beat France’s two best players in straight sets on his way to the title, having eliminated the top-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. I remember when I used to play Futures and Challengers, I think I lost maybe one or two finals,” Gulbis said.
Venus Williams made good on the wild card she received into the Dubai Championships by posting a 6-3, 6-2 first-round win over Elena Vesnina of Russia on Monday. The 48th-ranked Williams made her first appearance in Dubai since she won her second straight title here in 2010.
Serena Williams says she asked for a wildcard into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to combat boredom once she believed her back injury was on the mend. ”My back finally started to feel better but it wasn’t better in time for me to play Doha at the level I’d like to play,” said Williams, in a pre-match media interview on Monday. I want to play a match.” The American has been sidelined with an aching back since losing a three-set, fourth-round match to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open last month.
Kei Nishikori of Japan successfully defended his title at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships, beating Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (0) on Sunday. Nishikori won his fourth career title along with the $103,100 winner’s check and 250 points on the ATP Tour by making this event at The Racquet Club his first successful title defense. The big-serving Karlovic and his 20 aces couldn’t counter Nishikori’s precision over 90 minutes. Nishikori saved both break points he faced while winning 86 percent on his first serve (38 of 44).
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — David Ferrer of Spain has won his third straight Copa Claro title, defeating Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 Sunday on outdoor clay in the Argentine capital.
Tomas Berdych won his first ATP tournament title since October 2012, beating Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-4, 6-2 Sunday in the ABN Amro final. The match appeared to turn in the in the second game of the first set, on the Berdych serve, when Cilic had three breakpoints. With the game at deuce, Berdych appeared to have won a long rally, but Cilic complained that the ball had been damaged during play.