Dubai - Roger Federer has followed his best win in 18 months by taking his first
title in nine months with a revenge victory over Tomas Berdych in
Saturday's final of the Dubai Open.
Federer came from behind to beat world number two Novak Djokovic on Friday.
he did the same against Berdych, the man who saved two match points
against him in last year's semi-finals, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to claim a
sixth title in the UAE.
It was never a great final, for the error
count was too high, but it became increasingly dramatic as the game's
best known player worked his way back into it against one of the sport's
most dangerous hitters.
Federer was a set and a break down and
appeared to be out of it but managed to find some good returns at last,
just as the match was slipping away, and broke back at once. Then his
standard went up.
It extended Federer's record of Dubai titles to
six, and moved him above John McEnroe's total of 77 titles into third
place in the all-time title list.
Only Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors remain above the Swiss.
Most of all it helped the Grand Slam record-holder to maintain his belief that even at 32, he has another major in him.
the mental belief that you're gonna win instead of losing -- I think
that's what I got back right now," said Federer, after lifting his first
trophy since Halle in June last year.While
he had been brilliant in the second half of the match against Djokovic,
Federer was more circumspect about the tennis which had got him over
the line against Berdych.
"He should have brought it home,"
Federer admitted. "I got a little lucky. I just fought well and I
couldn't be more happy with the outcome.
How had he escaped from peril in the second set?
just stand on the baseline, try to hit a few good shots, hope Tomas
doesn't keep hitting big serves, and hope you get a little lucky," he
"I was able to stay calm and once I got back on even terms I
started to play better. I really enjoy playing against Tomas, who is a
great player and has had a great streak."
This was a reference to Berdych's 11 successive wins which is the longest streak of his career.
he will be very disappointed to have lost three of his next five
service games from 3-2 up in the second set, and again questions will be
raised about the Czech's mental capacity to make the best of his
Federer's patchy start happened despite being
donated an early break for a 2-1 lead by four successive driving errors
After it, he dropped serve twice without looking likely to make a break back.Berdych's
first serve and a few of his forehand blows were delivered as fast as
any in the game, but still Federer's timing was nowhere near the
sharpness it had been in the second half of his win 24 hours previously.
in the second set he stood with hands on hips, staring in frustration
at another mistimed forehand, just when he needed to make a push to turn
the match around.
Berdych began to make further serious progress
by breaking Federer for a 3-2 lead, and had he consolidated that the
match might have been over quickly.
Instead Federer found a bit of
magic at last, breaking back with a thunderous forehand, holding with a
delicate little half-volley drop shot, then holding to love with his
best game of the match, and forcing Berdych to serve to save the set.
couldn't. Instead he produced his most inhibited game of the match,
dropping serve to love, with Federer now rampaging around, launching
The third set saw Federer much more in the ascendant.
nearly broke for 2-0, did break for 3-1, and further eroded Berdych's
self-belief with a tremendous recovery from 15-40 down on his serve,
which got him to 5-2.
Berdych did well to save two match points on
his own serve, which might briefly have reminded Federer of what
happened last year.
However, the Swiss favourite was more solid
in closing out his advantage than the Czech nearly man, and at the death
there were no wobbles.
Berdych said: "It's very disappointing
for me the way I handled that situation. I was in the better shape and
playing really well, and made many chances, but unfortunately I didn't