Novak Djokovic capped a remarkable renaissance to the top of men's tennis on Saturday as he won a record-equalling fourth Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.
The 31-year-old Serb defeated defending champion Kevin Anderson in a tense final, punching the air in delight after a cross-court forehand winner that clinched a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City.
Djokovic celebrated by signing autographs courtside and posing for pictures with fans.
"I really am happy to have a match like this," Djokovic said. "Kevin is one of the best players in the world and he is in form. He was playing a very high level consistently throughout the match and I had to work really hard for the win."
Twelve months ago Djokovicn had been forced to withdraw from the MWTC the night before he was due to compete as he was still troubled by an elbow injury that forced him to miss the last half of the 2017 season.
But after undergoing successful surgery in February the Serb has not looked back. He charged from No 22 in the ATP rankings back to the top by November, winning Wimbledon and the US Open along the way, to take him up to 14 career grand slam titles.
His latest MWTC adds to his three championships in a row between 2011 and 2013 and matches Rafael Nadal's quartet of victories in Abu Dhabi.
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Saturday's showdown was a rematch of the Wimbledon final in July.
Then Djokovic had won 6-2, 6-2, 7-6, but Anderson was much more competitive this time around and was pleased with how he had performed.
"I thought I played some real good tennis," the South African said. "Overall I am very happy with my overall play.
"I think I can leave with a lot of positives. I played three competitive matches and I think I played my best tennis today.
"It would have been nice to win today but I can take a lot out of it."
It was Anderson who gained the initial advantage, capitalising on his first decent look at the Djokovic serve in the ninth game.
Having earned his first break point he claimed the set with a forehand winner after his powerful return had pushed the Serbian wide and opened up the court.
The second set was equally close with both men consistently finding a big serve to get themselves out of trouble when their opponents threatened,
But just as a tie-break looked imminent, in the 12th game, it was Anderson who finally cracked, double faulting to give Djokovic two set points. Djokovic clinched the set at the first opportunity as Anderson netted a forehand.
Anderson had the first chance to break in the third game of the final set. But Djokovic went for broke and was rewarded with a forehand winner from the back of the court that clipped the line to stave off the break point.
Djokovic had three chances to win the tournament in the 10th game, but he was unable to take any of the match points as Anderson's serve continued to get him out of trouble.
But Djokovic got two more chances in the 12th game, finally sealing the championship with his fifth match point as he ended a long rally with a cross-court forehand.