An intriguing match-up between 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and 49th ranked Lukas Rosol takes place in the quarter-final round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. It is the first time the two athletes meet on the professional tour, and also marks one of Rosol’s highest ranked opponent this season.
The World No. 8 had a slight hiccup at the start of his second round match against Radek Stepanek, as he dropped serve in the opening game of the match. Federer would quickly recover to break the Czech No. 2 in the following game, and would achieve a second break minutes later to storm to a 5-2 lead. He would break once again to secure the 6-2 lead in the opening set in 33 minutes.
The second set started off in identical fashion to the opening set, as Stepanek overwhelmed Federer early on to break the Swiss No. 2 in his opening game. This time he was able to consolidate the break and jumped to a 3-1 lead over Federer. The Swiss No. 2 would recover to send the match to a deciding tiebreaker, which he lost 7-4. The third set began with Stepanek’s third consecutive break over Federer in his opening game, yet this time was unable to remain ahead, as Federer broke back in the third game and eventually closed out the third set 6-3, hitting 31 winners and 7 aces in the process.
“I started to understand what I was doing wrong,” said Federer. “Which made me maybe play a little bit tentatively from the baseline, what made me not make enough shots [and] why I wasn’t playing as aggressively as I wanted to. I couldn’t find the right balance between offence and defence. It was almost a bit too late for everything, but I kind of hung around and I took the positives out of the match. Radek did a good job of putting the pressure on me and mixing it up. From that standpoint, it was a really difficult match. I’m very pleased to come through.”
Currently taking part in his best week on the ATP Tour this season, Lukas Rosol began his week with a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Germany’s Daniel Brands, and followed up with another close encounter against Dimitry Tursunov, which he won 6-4, 7-6(4). With a record of 3-6 in 2014, this marks Rosol’s first time past the second round of an ATP World Tour event this season. Infamoously known for his shocking elimination of Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, Rosol will be looking for another upset of similar magnitude on Thursday.
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour. Apart from an early encounter with Rafael Nadal, Federer is the highest ranked opponent that Rosol has encountered in 2014, which should place the Swiss No. 2 as a hefty favourite during the match. Federer has always been comfortable on this surface, considering he won the title here on five different occasions between 2003-2012. Federer has only been eliminated from the tournament prior to the semi-finals on two occasions dating back to 2002, and will likely extend his winning streak with a straight sets victory over Rosol.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets