February 28, 2015
Roger Federer claimed a seventh Dubai title with a magical display full of poise and courage in the Middle East.
His 6-3, 7-5 victory was nothing short of breathtaking because he made Novak Djokovic, the world number one, look ordinary.
Roger said, ‘It was very special to win this match, Novak and I get the best out of each other, thanks to the crowd for coming out to cheer. I won the big points, I’m pleased I served well.’
NINE THOUSAND CAREER ACES
Federer has now managed an incredible 9,000 aces in his career.
‘It’s a huge number and imagine how many I did in the juniors,’ Federer joked. ‘But I’m more excited about the match and the win. I’m looking forward to next year here already.’
It took just one hour and 24 minutes for Federer to dismantle the strongest defence in the game.
Federer looked immaculate in the first set, his rhythm seemingly unbreakable as he struck the ball early for maximum power. The Swiss master stayed relaxed even when he faced two break points midway through the set. He served his way out of jail and that created the tone for the entire match.
Before long it was Djokovic who had crumbled, hitting long on break point to hand Federer a 5-3 lead.
Roger’s ruthlessness was evident as he quickly eased to a 40-15 lead while serving for the set. Djokovic saved one set point, yet he couldn’t cope with Federer’s next serve and fired his return too far on the stretch.
From that moment it looked as though Federer still had enough youthful energy to hold onto his Dubai title. Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, was struggling for answers.
The Dubai crowd were thrilled to discover that Federer, who surely remains the world’s favourite player, could still put on a sparkling show against the finest player on the planet.
And yet you always wondered whether Novak was capable of moving through the gears when it really mattered. And it was no great surprise when the Serb exerted enough pressure to force more break points when 4-3 up in the second set.
Once again, Roger’s nerve enabled him to come up with his strongest serving under the most pressure and he escaped to achieve parity. Relentlessly, Djokovic wrapped up another service game to leave Roger fighting to stay in the second. Finally Federer seemed to have cracked and Novak suddenly had two set points to draw level in the match.
The Dubai champion saved the first with some brave play at the net and conjured three booming serves to go 5-5.
The problem for Roger was that he hadn’t been putting enough pressure on Novak’s serve in the second. But that changed when Djokovic double-faulted anyway, to give Federer a precious break point. The older man found a superb forehand winner and now he was serving for the title.
Two incredible passes gave Djokovic the early points in the decisive game and we seemed to be edging towards a tie-break. Instead Federer brought out the big guns once more, then dominated the net to give himself championship point.
Roger seemed distracted as the crowd went wild during the vital point and netted to squander his chance. Inexplicably, he did so again to hand Novak an escape route. But yet another ace gave Federer a second chance to close out and this time he made no mistake.
Let’s salute Roger Federer, one of the greatest sportsmen of all time…and still thrilling us with his cool magnificence.