Saturday, March 01, 2014
As I predicted, Roger Federer won the 2014 Dubai title by defeating Tomas Berdych 3-6 6-4 6-3.
It was Federer's 78th ATP career title, placing him in sole possession of the 3rd all-time position, surpassing John McEnroe at 77 and behind Ivan Lendl at 94 and Jimmy Connors at 109. It was also Federer's first title since winning in Halle for the 6th time in June 2013, which was his only title last year. Dubai is good stomping grounds for Federer, he has now won the title there six times (2003-05, 2007, 2012, 2014); he spends a lot of his off-season there, since he owns a house in the emirate and trains in the extreme heat in order to be ready for any conditions. The only tournament he has won more times is Wimbledon, which he has won 7 times (2003-2007, 2009, 2012).
Federer was down a set and break (3-6, 2-3 when he was suddenly able to break back and hold his own serve to go up 4-3 in the second set. The tennis was of a high quality, with both players hitting winners from all over the court. Berdych served especially well, while Federer did not (his serving percentage did go up as the match went on though, which is the preferred direction!). Federer was able to win the second set by breaking Berdych during a streak of 9 consecutive points won and in the deciding set he was able to get the first break and although he faced break points himself, he was able to consolidate the break and serve out the title.
It's clear the 17-time major champion is playing much better than he did in 2013. Last year he lost in the semifinals to Berdych despite having 3 match points, today he beat Berdych (improving to 12-6 lifetime). With his win today, he has 4 top 10 wins (Murray, Tsonga, Djokovic and Berdych) which is the same number he managed all of last year (4-10 for 2013 compared to 4-1 for 2014). With Indian Wells and Key Biscayne coming up, things are looking up for Federer fans!