Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer had contrastingly different passage in the semi- finals to set up a blockbuster final at the Dubai Dutyfree ATP 500. It will be the 37th time the two have met with Federer having the lead at 19-17; the last time the pair met at the Dubai Aviation Club was in the semi-final last year when the second ranked Federer prevailed in three sets against the world number Djokovic. In 2014 the duo met five times and Federer won three times, but Djokovic was denied a chance to even it at three apiece when the Swiss superstar withdrew from the ATP final in London before the match due to back injury he suffered in the semi-final against fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka
Djokovic who has won this event four times in the past is tied at 49 tournament wins with his German coach Boris Becker; looked like he was cruising in his match against the last two years loosing finalist Tomas Berdych. Having taken the first set 6-0, he led with a break of serve at 2-1 in the second set before the eighth ranked Berdych came back strongly taking the second set finally at 7-5 after failing to serve it out at 5-3 when he was broken at 30. In the decider Djokovix broke the deadlock in the fifth game and sealed the match 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 in more than two hours on Friday night. He is now 34-4 at this event.
Federer, who is trying to win an unprecedented 7th title in Dubai was barely made to sweat by his opponent Borna Coric of Croatia; who at 18 years and 3 months, became the first teenager to reach the last four since Rafael Nadal clinched the title in 2006 at age 19 ironically beating Federer in the final. The 6-2, 6-1 win against the 84th ranked Coric gives him the chance to clinch his 84th tour level title. A win on Saturday would also mean that he has seven titles at three different events; the other two being at the grass court events at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and Wimbledon. Federer is 46-5 at this event and is only 5 aces short of becoming the fourth player to reach the 9000 aces mark.
Like most of their previous 36 encounters expect this one to be closely contested, but the 33 year old Swiss who has a home in Dubai as he trains there during the year enjoys a near partisan crowd support maybe the more hungry of the two as he was unexpectedly bundeled out in the third round of the Australian Open 2015 which the Serb won beating Andy Murray in the final. Federer has spent less than 200 minutes on court winning his four matches en route to the final and should be up and ready against the world’s best player. One way or the other history would be made tomorrow but I am tipping Federer as the final is a best of three sets. A win for Djokovic would earn him his 50th tour level title.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]