KEY BISCAYNE (AP) — When a flyover by a flock of pelicans briefly interrupted Novak Djokovic’s final service game Sunday, he waved both arms and grinned as if he had just won a championship.READ MORE: Miami Beach Ordinance Seeks To Roll Back Alcohol Sales In Entertainment District
The actual celebration began moments later, when Djokovic clinched a record-tying sixth Key Biscayne title and his third in a row, beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 in the Miami Open final.
After Nishikori shanked the final shot, Djokovic hopped happily near the net, paired a leg kick with an uppercut, and then lovingly patted the court that has brought him much success.
During the trophy ceremony, the top-ranked Djokovic recalled winning Key Biscayne for the first time when he was 19.
“I have a very special connection to this tournament,” he told the crowd. “In 2007 it was the biggest title I had won in my career. It has been a springboard for everything coming after that. I certainly hope that the love affair continues in the years to come.”
Djokovic tied Andre Agassi’s record of six men’s titles at Key Biscayne, but then he wins everywhere these days. He’s 28-1 in 2016, with the lone loss coming when he retired during his quarterfinal against Feliciano Lopez in Dubai because of an eye infection.
Djokovic earned his 28th ATP Masters title, breaking the record he shared with Rafael Nadal. He swept Indian Wells and the Miami Open for the third year in a row.
The No. 6-seeded Nishikori lost to Djokovic for the sixth consecutive time and was doomed by an erratic serve. He double-faulted five times, and Djokovic repeatedly pounced on his second serve to earn five breaks.
After several days of sweltering conditions, weather wasn’t an issue, with highs only in the 70s, but Djokovic made sure the match didn’t become an endurance test anyway. He broke in three of his first four return games, dominating rallies in part because Nishikori’s shots lacked the precision of earlier matches.
Nishikori required treatment from a trainer on his left thigh late in the second set, but his bigger problem was his opponent.READ MORE: Miami Gardens Opens New Walk-Up COVID-19 Vaccination Site
“Hope I can get you next time,” Nishikori told Djokovic during the trophy ceremony.
“I hope you don’t,” Djokovic responded.
“It’s always tough to play Novak,” Nishikori said later. “I thought I wasn’t playing too bad, but at the same time he played great tennis. He was very patient and he didn’t miss.”
That was nothing new. Djokovic won all 12 of his sets in the tournament.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) April 3, 2016
Djokovic earned $1.03 million — the same as women’s champion Victoria Azarenka. After winning Indian Wells two weeks ago, Djokovic caused a stir when he said men should earn more prize money than women because they draw larger crowds.
Djokovic flies Monday to his home in Monte Carlo, where he’ll begin the clay season a week later. He’s a 10-time Grand Slam champion, and the French Open is the only major tournament he has yet to win.
“I have lots of motivation for the beginning of the clay court season that ends up hopefully with the crown in Paris,” he said. “But I’m not the only one who wants to win that big trophy.”MORE NEWS: South Florida Bride, Groom Crashers At Own Fort Lauderdale Mansion Wedding
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