(February 27, 2016) DUBAI, UAE – Second seed Stan Wawrinka defeated unseeded Marcos Baghdatis to win his first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the Swiss’ 13th tennis title, second of the year. Third time was the charm for the two-time major champion as it was Wawrinka’s third appearance in the tournament, having lost in the first round of the previous two he played.
Wawrinka, who has a perfect record against the Cypriot (6-0), was the 2013 ‘s-Hertogenbosch final to Nicolas Mahut. He is now 13-9 in finals. It was his second
Wawrinka is the just the fifth active player to have won nine of more finals in a row, joining the company fellow Swiss Roger Federer (24, also 13 and 10), Rafael Nadal (14, also 9 twice), Novak Djokovic (9) and Tommy Haas (9).
The world No. 4 was just two points away from elimination in his opening match against Sergiy Stakhovsky.
“I’m really happy to have another trophy,” said Wawrinka. “It’s amazing feeling, especially that today I was playing some really good tennis. It was a tough final against Marcos. I’m really happy again to have the trophy. It was tough beginning (of the week), but always trying to fight, always trying to improve day by day even if I wasn’t playing great at the beginning.
“So far it’s been some amazing year. I’m playing my best tennis since few years now, so hopefully I can keep the level and keep playing well this year.”
Asked about his streak in finals, Wawrinka replied: “There is no explanation. I also know that more I win matches in the same week, more confidence I get. I know that’s normally when I get some finals I play my best tennis. So far it’s been some great nine finals.
“But I don’t think about it. I just try to go on court, to step on the court, try to get the trophy because at the end that’s what I want.”
“As long as I’m fit, playing well, I’m going to play,” said the 30-year-old. “So far it’s been some amazing year. I’m playing my best tennis since few years now, so hopefully I can keep the level and keep playing well this year.”
Baghdatis, a former Australian Open finalist is making his move back up the rankings after a few years battling injuries.
“I have been playing very well throughout last year, too,” he said. “I think I had some great matches also last year.
“I mean, like I said last year, I lost 11 times to the winner of the tournament, 3 times to the finalist of the tournament. This year I lost four matches. Three of them are to the winner of the tournaments. So I think I’m playing very good tennis. It’s just this week I think I was a bit lucky and I went through the quarterfinals and the semifinals, you know. I found my way to win. I think, like I said, more matches at this stage, at this level I think will make me improve. That’s what’s happening.
“You know, I didn’t win the tournament this week but I won a lot more, you know. I won my confidence back.
“I see — I mean, with my team we see the way to come back, you know. It’s a small light that we see, I mean, in the tunnel.
“We come from a long way back. You know, I’m happy I’m back and playing this kind of tennis now. It’s just to continue improving, and, like I said, play at this level throughout the year.”
Baghdatis has now lost in 7 straight finals.
“I think just playing this level more often. I think that was the difference,” he said. “I think 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. You know, I didn’t win the tournament this week but I won a lot more. I won my confidence back. I’m happy I’m back and playing this kind of tennis now.”
“I think the atmosphere out there, no doubt one of the best I ever had,” said the Cypriot. “You know, I mean, every time I come here in Dubai there is a great atmosphere. Every time I play here in centre court there is a great atmosphere. So it wasn’t a surprise for me. I love playing here. I want to thank all the people that came out here today and performed that atmosphere.”
The highlight of the match came in the second set tiebreak. Wawrinka had a 4-1 lead and Baghdatis came back to level the tiebreak and had four set points, but Wawrinka’s defense stopped his opponent and he held on to win the tiebreak 15-13. Game, set and match 6-4, 7-6(13).
Baghdatis will see his ranking go up from 57 into the top forty.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2016
Singles – Final
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) d M. Baghdatis (CYP) 64 76(13)
Doubles – Final
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Seppi (ITA) d F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) 62 36 14-12 – Saved 2 M.P.
All photos by Nida Alibhai