Roger Federer is into the Dubai Final! This will be his 9th Dubai final and 126th career final. It will also be against an old rival, Novak Djokovic. This will be their 37th meeting, 11th final and currently the H2H stands at 19-17 in the Maestro’s favour. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First the SF; against 18 year old Borna Coric.
Borna won the toss and elected to receive, maybe hoping to ease into the match. He pressured Roger right away. Borna had two breakpoints but Roger saved them both to hold. Then before Borna could begin to formulate a plan, Roger had breakpoints of his own. He broke right away and the score went up 2*-0. The Swiss then consolidated the break to go up 3-0*. Borna then held to get on the board but he was still down a break. All Roger had to do then was keep holding his serve. But wouldn’t you know it; Borna had multiple breakpoints in the next game and all he needed was one. The score went up to 3—2* and the set was back on serve. Thankfully Roger had had enough by then and put the pressure on Borna who ultimately got broken with his own double-fault. Roger was up a break again and but of course he had to consolidate the break. This time, Roger didn’t blink and he held leaving Coric to serve to stay in the set at 2*-5. But the youngster didn’t have a chance. Roger hit some glorious shots to bring up a set point and poof! One set was in the bag.
Set 2 started with Roger serving but he hit a few unforced errors. Nonetheless, he held and then immediately pushed Coric. The tactic paid off as he broke Borna to go up 2*-0. Roger quickly held to go up 3*-0 and it was up to Borna to try and hang on. Roger had breakpoints but Coric saved them and finally got on the board at 1-3*. Roger held next to go up 4-1* and then had a breakpoint again on Borna’s serve. He broke him with a masterful point and before you had time to process what was happening, Roger was at the baseline, ready to serve it out. He lost a couple of points on serve but in the end he closed it out, 6-2, 6-1 in 56 minutes. Here are the stats.The stats aren’t the prettiest to be honest. Roger had a few serving issues but it was also very windy out on court so that’s probably why. His winners to unforced errors was negative, with 20 winners to 25 errors. It could be attributed to Roger taking his time to get a measure of Borna and analyzing his weaknesses. There were some shanks too though and the backhand in particular bothered him quite a bit in the beginning. The good news is he got better as the match on so hopefully he can carry this into the final. Here are the highlights, the hot shot, a clip of his presser, a post-presser interview and lastly some quotes from Borna himself on how it was to face the Maestro 😉
“When you come on the court and when you actually feel the ball and feel the pressure which he’s making, it’s actually tougher than when you’re watching it on the sofa in front of the TV. I was feeling yesterday like I won the Grand Slam, and then today I need to go out again after 24 hours and play against a guy who is–we all know who he is.”
And some more from here 😉
“He was just way too good for me. I was feeling so rushed, you know. I didn’t have any time to play my game plan. I was just trying to hold in the rally as long as I can, and it was basically only thing I could do. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, because I never played him, you know… [But] this is almost a dream come true. I was watching him since I was I think maybe six or seven. I was watching him play Wimbledon, playing all the Slams. I was saying, I wish I could play with him one day, you know. And today I was playing against him. I’m just happy that I made the semi-final. I gave my best—my best wasn’t even close enough, but what you can do?”
As for the upcoming final itself, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Novak hadn’t faced formidable opponents in Dubai till the SFs and it appeared he struggled a bit against Berdych before winning the match in 3 sets. I don’t think that will affect his performance against Roger though because somehow he brings his absolute best when he plays the Maestro. In that way, he’s similar to Rafa, they both have a 6th gear just for our champ 😦 As is always the case when these two play, I have no idea how the match will go. Both have had some struggles in this tournament, Roger a bit more than Novak but then Roger faced higher ranked opponents in each round (except the SF). A lot will depend on day form and getting a quick start. The match will start at 7:00pm local time. Wishing you all the best Roger! Come On!