Gael Monfils took a tumble in the match against Novak Djokovic.
PHOTO BY JONATHAN YBERA/EXPAT MEDIA
DUBAI – Top seed Novak Djokovic fought off three match points before overcoming third seed Gael Monfils 2-6 7-6 (8) 6-1 to reach the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and he will now meet second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who ended the run of unseeded Daniel Evans 6-2 6-3.
Four-time champion Djokovic is now on a 20-match winning streak dating back to last year at the Davis Cup Finals, and he has now beaten Monfils 17 straight times.
His survival hung in the balance as after losing the opening set he failed to convert two set points at 5-4 and another three at 6-5 in the second set and then found himself 6-3 down in the tiebreak.
After fighting his way out of that crisis and levelling the match on his eighth set point, Djokovic dominated the third as Monfils salvaged just seven points in the set.
Monfils took two tumbles late in the match and was unable to maintain his challenge, and Djokovic claimed victory after an absorbing two hours 35-minutes.
“He was getting everything back in the court.,” said Djokovic in explaining his struggle. “I mean, I made a lot of unforced errors, especially first set, beginning of the second. Just wasted a lot of mid-court short balls. Just wasn’t working. I was kind of flat with my feet. Or when I was coming in, he was easily finding a way to make a passing shot.
“It was tough. It was just one of those matches where you have to hang in. I knew if I managed somehow to get back in the second set, hold my serve, I’ll get chances. That’s what happened. From this perspective it was better for me to actually win in tiebreak because it got him obviously more tired. I should have I guess won the set 5-4, 6-5. Many missed opportunities.
“I just wasn’t taking my chances when I was having rally on those set points. But that kind of turned around from 3-6 in the tiebreak. From that moment onwards I felt I was going through the ball better. Obviously third set it’s hard to measure it because obviously he was injured from third game of the third set and it wasn’t even close to what he played in the first two hours.“ JY/Expat Media
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