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Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Sunday, 23 March 2008

Djokovic sees off Fish for title

By Piers Newbery

 Novak Djokovic
Djokovic made amends for finishing runner-up last year

Third seed Novak Djokovic continued his seemingly unstoppable rise with victory over unseeded American Mardy Fish in the final of the Pacific Life Open.

The 20-year-old Serb took the third Masters Series title of his career with a 6-2 5-7 6-3 win.

Fish beat Roger Federer in the semis but despite a second-set fightback, this time Djokovic proved too strong.

It is Djokovic's ninth career title and comes two months after his maiden Grand Slam win at the Australian Open.

A delighted Djokovic admitted "it has been a dream start" to the season.

He added: "This is a big run. I'm getting everything together and I believe in myself much more than I used to last year.

"When you start winning the major events, you have proved to yourself in the first place and to everybody else that you have quality to be there at the top.

"It's just a matter of mental ability and mental strength. I have worked on that throughout these last two years and I think I gained that with experience."

The final was played in an unusually rowdy atmosphere, with a large contingent of Serbian supporters having watched Ana Ivanovic win the women's title earlier, while the home fans were backing their man vociferously.

And Fish continued with the all-or-nothing attitude of firing big serves and huge forehands that saw him past Federer on Saturday.


The approach clearly unsettled Djokovic, who showed signs of being a little rattled during the first set despite controlling the match.

He raced out to a 3-0 lead before Fish blasted his way back with a break of his own, but the American could not sustain a challenge despite landing some heavy blows.

Djokovic powered through the final three games of the set and appeared to have the match in his hands with a break to lead 4-2 in the second set.

But with the hard work apparently done, he gave the break straight back with a double fault and promptly slammed his racket into the ground.

Two games later, the Djokovic racket got the treatment once again after he got within two points of victory before letting a 0-30 lead slip on the Fish serve.

And he was made to pay for it when Fish reeled off a couple of forehand winners to break and served out to level the match.

A titanic struggle was looming but Fish could not maintain his superb level and finally began to falter, Djokovic breaking in game two of the decider with a backhand winner.

This time there was no way back for the American and Djokovic kept hold of the advantage to wrap up the victory.

However, Fish drew on the positives that came from his impressive run at the tournament and is keen to keep the momentum going.

"I think one thing has to be stated is that I did play about as well as I can," he said.

"It would be really nice to take this momentum and take this confidence into next week."

see also
Indian Wells pictures
23 Mar 08 |  Tennis
Fish sends Federer crashing out
22 Mar 08 |  Tennis

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