Novak Djokovic celebrates fifth consecutive hard-court title after beating Kevin Anderson

Australian Open next on the schedule for in-form Serb, who leads men’s rankings by winning a record fifth ATP title in straight sets

Novak Djokovic is no longer the no. 1 of number ones. On Monday he held his third consecutive tournament title, and third in a row on hard courts as he beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 to win the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

Djokovic, who last won a Grand Slam at the 2016 Australian Open, set the record for consecutive hard-court titles with his fifth trophy at the end-of-season event in Abu Dhabi.

During the title celebration, he pointed to the sky with both hands and screamed “Da-da”, the Serbian word for victory.

In three weeks he will be the no. 1 of the rankings, the last player to hold the top ranking consecutively. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the top two, lost early at the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on 18 January.

“I got a bit tired, but it was a great week and I can’t complain,” Djokovic said. “I put in so much work to get back. I will continue that work. I’m going to play a couple more tournaments before I enter the new season.”

The Serbian former world No 1 spent almost a year away from tennis. He was in the midst of a disappointing season that in August ended with a six-month layoff after returning from surgery on his right elbow.

A determined Djokovic, whose record is 12 Grand Slam titles, returning to form quickly in 2017. His success at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship is the third time he has won the title.

He joins Pete Sampras as the only players to win at least three tournaments in one season without a major title.

Djokovic heads into the Australian Open with a 9-2 record this season. Federer also is 9-2 with one tournament left to play – the Brisbane International – while Nadal is 8-5.

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