Novak Djokovic has backed Stefanos Tsitsipas’ credentials to be the next world No 1 after a hard-fought win over the Greek at the Dubai Championships.
In an entertaining final between the two top seeds, Djokovic showed why he hasn’t been beaten since November by proving to be too strong for Tsitsipas.
And the Serbian completed a 6-3 6-4 win in just 79 minutes to win his 21st consecutive match.
Earlier in the week, Djokovic ensured Rafael Nadal couldn’t replace him at the top of men’s tennis and he can extend his lead later this month with another strong performance at Indian Wells.
There is a gulf in points between Djokovic and Nadal and the rest of the ATP Tour.
But Djokovic believes Tsitsipas, who is ranked fifth, is well on the way to being the heir to the crown.
“He’s a mature man already,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
“He’s young in terms from the perspective of professional sport, but he’s been around. He’s very smart, very wise.
“I mean, you heard his words on the court. I told him that after the match, I told him that I love that about him, I love the fact that he is more than just tennis player and he’s always looking to learn from the experience and to understand something new about himself so he can improve, get better.
- Novak Djokovic gives verdict after winning Dubai Championships
“That for me is a trait of a champion, of someone that for sure has a great potential to be No. 1 of the world and win slams and be the great ambassador of our sport.
“He already is, but he has great future ahead of him, I’m sure.”
In his own assessment, Tsitsipas set his sights on emulating Djokovic by going on a long unbeaten run.
He said: “I personally think it is possible. I am not surprised he has done it. I want to do it one day too.
“I think it’s a good combination of giving less than you have to on the court, having a good rehab, having a good in-between match scheduling, how well you recover after every match.
“Your diet, of course, plays an important role. Also your mental state, having a clear mental state, not having anything bother you.
“I’ve been playing some good tennis. Obviously I’ve never had the record that Djokovic has. But I do think it’s possible. Of course, lots of respect to him for doing it so many times.
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