Dubai: Former world number one Roger Federer capped a memorable week with his sixth title here after a hard-fought 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open on Saturday.
Berdych, who conquered Federer in the semi-final last year before bowing to Novak Djokovic, could not match the sleek skills once the Swiss legend got into the rhythm. The Swiss master has now overtaken American John McEnroe in third place on the all-time title list with his 78th singles crown.
Federer has previously won here three times in a row between 2003 and 2005 and then again in 2007 and 2012. The Swiss master has won more than six titles at three other events — Wimbledon, Halle and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Shaikh Hasher Maktoum, Dubai Director of Information and President of Tennis Emirates, was joined by Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of Dubai Duty Free; Salah Tahlak, tournament director; George Horan, president, Dubai Duty Free, and Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, vice-president of Tennis Emirates, at the trophy presentation.
“I am very happy with this win against an opponent who always brings out the best from me. I hit a few good shots and perhaps got lucky at key moments,” Federer said.
Going into their 18th career meeting with an 11-6 record, Federer seemed to be weighed down by the fact that he had lost in their last two encounters: the US Open quarter-finals in 2012 followed by last year’s semi-final in Dubai.
Like Friday’s semi-final between Djokovic and Federer, the final too proved to be of two contrasting parts. The first part saw a Federer slow to take off with his shots and the second witnessing an awesome display of shot-making and finesse.
In fact, it was the Swiss ace breaking early for a 2-1 lead, but was unable to convert that advantage as Berdych broke right back, held and broke a second time in the sixth to ultimately take the set 6-3 in 33 minutes.
It was in the second set that the Federer of old started showing signs of stirring once again, but his Serbian opponent kept things tight and managed to register the first break in the fifth game and go clear 3-2.
However, Federer broke right back and then broke his opponent on love in the tenth game to draw level one set all to force a deciding third.
Earlier, the ‘Indo-Pak Express’ of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi rolled on for a debut doubles crown together with an emphatic 6-4, 6-3 win over top seeds Nenad Zjimonjic and Daniel Nestor.
For the Indian, it was a second title in Dubai following his first one that came in 2012 in the company of Mahesh Bhupathi, while for Qureshi this was a dream first on the ATP 500 category.
Singles: Roger Federer bt Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Doubles: Rohan Bopanna/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi bt Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 6-3.