Roger Federer after his win, in Dubai, on Wednesday
Dubai: Fourth seed Roger Federer survived a scare before defeating Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 in the Dubai Duty Free Championships, on Wednesday.
In another match, third-seeded Tomas Berdych had an easy time securing a 6-2, 6-1 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine. Berdych, who will face fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals, has won his last eight matches.
Despite Berdych having trouble with his first serve — his percentage was a ghastly 37 — he controlled the match. He lost his serve once, and won 12 of the last 14 points.
“I was working a little more on my return stats than on my service stats,” Berdych said. “The main focus really for the next days is to get my percentage of the first serve back and really find a nice and sweet rhythm for my serve.”
Tsonga got a walk-over in the second round when his opponent, Nikolay Davydenko, withdrew with a rib injury. Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic upset eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), and seventh-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Andrea Seppi.
Kohlschreiber will play Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri, who bypassed Somdev Dev Varman. Coming into the match following an upset win over second seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 78th-ranked Indian suffered a 3-6, 5-7 defeat against his Tunisian rival, who is ranked 137.
Somdev had three break chances in the first set but converted none while dropping his serve twice. The second set was no different as he could cash in on only two of the seven break chances. He lost his serve thrice. While serving to stay in the match, Somdev saved two match points but netted a forehand on the third and Jaziri, who was ranked 69 in 2012, raised his arms up in joy. Somdev will collect 45 ranking points and $24,475 as prize money.
Fourth seed Federer struck 10 glorious winners, and just four unforced errors, to take the opening set in just 33 minutes. But Stepanek was the one who got the first break in the very first game, before Federer drew level with a break.
And then, unleashing a barrage of powerful ground-strokes and outwitting his opponent with baseline exchanges, it was Federer who ruled the first set. With a break in the eighth game, he wrapped up the set.
But the second set belonged to Stepanek, who finally ended Federer’s 17-set winning streak over him. The 35-year-old raced to a 2-0 lead and maintained the gap till Federer broke back in the 10th game. The set went to tie break and saw some dramatic moments. Stepanek grabbed the tie-breaker at 7-4.
But in the third set, it was again Federer who had the last laugh. Though he was broken first, and Stepanek did manage multiple game points, it was the magic of Federer that finally prevailed. He drew level with a break and then raced to a 5-2 lead. Though he lost serve in the eighth again, he finally registered a 6-3 win in the set, and with it the match.