Wawrinka serves warning to rivals

DUBAI • Two-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka has warned his rivals that he can raise his tennis game when it matters most after winning his ninth straight final.

The Swiss world No. 4 defeated Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 7-6 (15-13) on Saturday to clinch the Dubai ATP title and said: "I know that the more matches I win in the same week, the more confidence I get. When I get into finals, I play my best tennis.

"So far it's been great to win nine finals, but I don't think about it. I just try to go on court and get the trophy because that's what I want."

BEST TENNIS IN FINALS

I know that the more matches I win in the same week, the more confidence I get. When I get into finals, I play my best tennis.

STAN WAWRINKA, on winning nine straight finals.

It was the Swiss' 13th career title and second of the season after Chennai, with his record improving to 13-2 this year.

The match lasted for almost two hours, with Wawrinka leading 4-1 in the tie-breaker. But he was forced to go the distance as he saved five set points before winning when a Baghdatis return went wide on a fourth match point.

"I had to fight until the end - it was a crazy tie-breaker," said Wawrinka, who entered this event saying that he has the game to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

The Serb retired in his quarter-final against Feliciano Lopez due to an eye infection, easing Wawrinka's path to victory.

Baghdatis stands 0-5 in finals since winning his last title in Sydney in 2010. The Cypriot has now lost all six times he has faced Wawrinka.

The world No. 57 called his performance "a small light that I see in the tunnel".

"I'm happy I'm back and playing this kind of tennis now," said the former world No. 8. "I was a bit unlucky in the tie-breaker, that was the difference."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'Wawrinka serves warning to rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe