17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer got off to a rocky start on Wednesday afternoon in Dubai but was able to switch gears and crusie into the quarter-final stage of the tournament. The Swiss No. 1 will next encounter France’s Richard Gasquet, whom he holds a dominant 13-2 record in the head-to-head series, which includes a recent victory at last year’s Davis Cup final.
Although most expected a straightforward encounter between Federer and Verdasco, the crowd at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships came to life early in the first set when they found their hero down 1-4. However, the tides would turn rapidly, and Federer was able to win five consecutive games (to love) to snatch the opening set 6-4. From there, the six-time champion cruised into the quarter-final after completing the math 6-4, 6-3 in 60 minutes.
“I’m very happy how the match went,” said Federer. “I think it was a good quality match from my side. I think Fernando played well for spells, but I think I was quite consistent.”
His opponent, Richard Gasquet, withstood 11 aces from Roberto Bautista Agut to defeat the Spaniard 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6) in their second round match-up on Court 1. It was a close, competitive encounter – one that the Frenchman struck 76% of his first service points and saved four break points to close out the match in 2 hours and 21 minutes.
This is the 16th time that Federer and Gasquet will meet on the professional tour, with world No. 2 leading the series 13-2. Apart from the large gap between them in the head-to-head, Federer has reeled off five consecutive wins against the Frenchman dating back to 2011, including recent wins at the Davis Cup final in France, and the Miami Masters. While Gasquet could pose a threat during the match, Federer should eventually find his way into the final four in Dubai.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets