Following up on their five tour meetings in 2014 alone, the top two players on the ATP World Tour, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships – their first meeting of the season, just as was the case last year when they clashed in the semi-final stage of the prestigious Gulf tournament. Of those five meetings, the series was split 3-2 in favour of Federer, who won their most recent meeting in the semi-final of the Shanghai Masters.
The last match on Centre Court saw world No. 1 Novak Djokovic up against Tomas Berdych in a contest that appeared to be a walk in the park for the Serb. After breezing through the first set 6-0, however, Djokovic was faced with some significant resistance from Berdych, which eventually allowed him to capitalize and push the contest to a decider. Unfortunately for Berdych, he was unable to maintain that momentum and lost the final set, and hence, the match 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 in just over two hours.
“Even after the first set that went as perfectly as possible and when I was break up I knew that the match is not over,” said Djokovic. “I just wanted to stay on that level, but it was hard.
“I started making some unforced errors, backed up a little bit, less first serves in. Then he stepped in. From that moment on it was an even match, a lot of unforced errors from my side. [I] just wasn’t feeling the ball great in the third but somehow managed to hang in there.”
Faced with an opponent who had just ousted world No. 4 Andy Murray with relative ease, second seed Roger Federer was calm and determined to teach the young whippersnapper a lesson. He did just that, as the Swiss No. 2 dispatched Borna Coric – the youngest player on the ATP World Tour Top 100 – 6-2, 6-1 to clinch his spot in the tournament final. Federer hit 20 winners and 3 aces en route to the victory in 57 minutes time. He will now attempt to capture his seventh title in Dubai, as well as his 84th ATP title overall.
“Maybe I was a bit tentative in the beginning, but I was still able to get off to somewhat of a good start, not being broken early, then breaking him right away,” said Federer. “I felt like after five games I knew more or less what to expect, and I realised what had worked until that point and what had not.”
The latest chapter in the remarkable rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be written on Sunday afternoon in Dubai, as the two top competitors will cross paths once again in the final of the tournament. Given that their last meeting on the tour never took place after Federer was forced to withdraw from the World Tour Finals with a back injury, it will be interesting to see how the tour’s top two players will pick things up.
“When you play Roger, it’s always a great challenge,” said Djokovic. “If you want to win you have to play your best tennis, especially against Roger in the final of any event, but here particularly. Because I feel like this is the kind of a surface and conditions that it suits his game the best.”
Prediction: Roger Federer in Three Sets