ATP Dubai Tennis Championships: Roger Federer beats Novak Djokovic to reach final
Roger Federer rolled back the years to defeat Novak Djokovic 3-6 6-3 6-2 and reach the final of the Dubai Open.
Last Updated: 01/03/14 10:15am
The 32-year-old fought back from a set down with a masterclass of tennis to secure a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory in one hour 50 minutes to dethrone the defending champion.
Federer remains on course for his sixth title in Dubai and next faces Tomas Berdych in Saturday's final.
Federer rarely troubled the world No 2 in the first set and the pivotal moment came at 2-2 in the second when the Swiss saved a break point with a delicious backhand pass.
The 17-times grand slam champion went on to hold serve and then broke in a rain-interrupted game - the players leaving the court for only a few minutes - with a backhand bullet from the baseline.
Federer clinched the set with an ace before Djokovic, 26, double-faulted in the first game of the decider to gift his opponent a crucial early break.
He broke again in the fifth game, although he had to save two break points when serving for the match before holding his nerve to seal victory.
The Swiss legend now holds a 17-15 lead in head-to-head matches with Djokovic after to his first victory over the Serb in four matches.
"There was a buzz out there tonight, and I was able to enjoy myself with that crowd," Federer said.
"For some reason I had a tough start but the crowd kept pushing me on and I played well. It's a quick court so I am always trying to be aggressive."
The 17-time Grand Slam winner was asked when he might be back to his best after a difficult 2013.
"I hope it's now," he said. "It's all happening. Beating Novak on the hard courts here in Dubai, it's tough. This is a big step in the right direction for me. It gives me a lot of confidence."
World No 6 Berdych continued his new-found run of good form when he reached the final for the second successive year.
Last year's runner-up had not won an ATP Tour title for 16 months until he won Rotterdam this month, but the 7-5 7-5 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber, the seventh-seeded German was his 16th win in 17 matches.
Equally crucially Berdych was able to impose breaks of serve when it mattered most, at the end of each set, leaving his fluent but lighter-weight opponent with no chance to repair the damage.
"It feels absolutely great," he said "I am pleased with today because it was a really tough win. It's a pleasure getting to the final again here, a tournament which has such a strong field.
"My rhythm is much better than it was. It is important for me to be hitting the ball nicely and then my game really works."