Berdych beats Federer to reach Dubai final
By Michael Casey, APDUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Tomas Berdych saved three match points before beating defending champion Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 Friday to set up a Dubai Championships final against Novak Djokovic.
March 3, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
In a back-and-forth tiebreaker, Berdych led 4-2 before needing to save two match points — the second with a powerful serve. The Czech player then wasted a set point before Federer failed to convert his third match point. Berdych finally clinched the set with a blistering return.
Berdych then broke to go up 3-2 in the third set, only for Federer to save two match points before holding for 5-4. But the sixth-ranked Czech finished it off when Federer hit a crosscourt forehand into the net.
“It feels really amazing,” Berdych told the crowd. “It's really just about one single point that I was able to make better than him. For me, it was a celebration of tennis. I like to play him so much because of what he has achieved.”
The second-ranked Federer has still not reached a final in 2013 and seemed at a loss to explain how he failed to finish off Berdych.
“Pity to lose that one, but Tomas did well to hang in there,” Federer said. “Obviously I leave this match with a lot of regrets.”
Federer only converted two of 11 break points and also saw his serve let him down at crucial moments, especially in the tiebreaker.
Earlier, the top-ranked Djokovic stormed past fourth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-6 (4), in a match that was marked by a disputed time violation call that was a key turning point.
The top-ranked Serb, bidding for his fourth Dubai title in five years, made the only break of the first set and won it when del Potro hit a return long. Del Potro then jumped out to 3-0 in the second courtesy of a much improved service game only to unravel when he was warned for taking too long on his serve.
Facing a break point at 3-1, the Argentine was given a warning by the chair umpire for taking more than the allotted 25 seconds. It sparked a flurry of boos in the packed stadium and prompted a furious Del Potro to argue with the umpire. He then hit a forehand wide to make it 3-2, lifting his racket as he was going to smash it. Djokovic ran off the next three games, but failed to serve out the match at 5-3.
However, the Serb clinched the tiebreaker when Del Potro hit another forehand long. The victory extends the Serb's winning streak to 17 matches — including his third Australian Open title — dating back to last year. His last loss was Oct. 31 at the Paris Masters to Sam Querrey.
“I was very pleased with the performance overall and the way I handled myself in the tough moments,” Djokovic said. “Mentally I stayed tough and believed that I could go all the way and win in straight sets. I didn't really allow myself to be negative. I have been very, very positive and confident.”
Tomas Berdych, of Czech Republic, celebrates his win against Roger Federer, of Switzerland, in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, Friday, March ...