| Tomas Berdych exults after defeating Roger Federer, in Dubai, on Friday |
Dubai: Third seed Tomas Berdych saved three match points before beating defending champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Dubai championships on Friday to set up a final against Novak Djokovic.
Czech Berdych recorded his fifth win in eight matches over Federer, triumphing 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, while top seed Djokovic extended his winning streak to 17 matches by beating Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6.
Djokovic and Federer have claimed eight of the past 10 Dubai titles between them and the 5,000 capacity crowd were urging the world’s top two to win through under the floodlights.
Serb Djokovic obliged in the first semi but a tired Federer fell short, losing at the semi-finals stage of the tournament for the first time in eight appearances.
“I couldn’t have a better feeling than this one, coming from court playing Roger almost in front of his home crowd,” Berdych told reporters.
The Swiss went into the match with an 11-5 winning record against the world No. 6, although the Czech had been victorious in four of their past seven meetings, including at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Federer broke in the first set when Berdych slugged a whipped forehand from mid-court into the net for a 5-3 lead. He sealed the set with a second set ace.
The Swiss surged from 5-2 down in the second, but then fluffed three match points in the tiebreak before Berdych forced a deciding set with a bludgeoned return winner.
Djokovic came from 3-0 down in the second set against Del Potro to serve for the match at 5-4. But he faltered as Del Potro forced a tiebreak as his fellow Argentines in the stands raucously chanted his name.
Djokovic ultimately triumphed, a forehand winner from mid-court the only point in the tiebreak going against serve.
“His serve is very powerful, his forehand from the back of the court he can do anything with — I needed to stay in it when I was a break down,” Djokovic said in a courtside interview.
Earlier, Mahesh Bhupathi reached the first final of the season with French partner Michael Llodra after overcoming the fighting pair of Rohan Bopanna and Rajeev Ram.
The unseeded Bhupathi and Llodra got past Bopanna and Ram 6-4, 6-7 (2), 10-5 in the first semi-final, lasting one hour and 28 minutes.
At one stage Bhupathi and Llodra were cruising and were serving for the match in the 10th game of the second set but Bopanna and Ram continued to fight hard, stretching the match to a super tie-breaker.
Bhupathi and Llodra now face third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Nenand Zimonjic, who pipped Mikhail Youzhny and Jonathan Erlich 7-6 (2) 7-6 (2) in the other semi-final. (agencies)