Only two men remain in a week of upsets and drama, and we could witness a piece of history on Saturday as Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in the final of 2019 ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, in a rematch of their fourth round encounter at the Australian Open.
Roger Federer is chasing a 100th career singles title, while Tsitsipas is seeking back-to-back ATP titles after winning in Marseilles last weekend. So will the Swiss Maestro achieve that significant landmark, or does the young Greek have something extraordinary up his sleeve to stun the 20-time Grand Slam winner yet again?
Roger Federer vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Federer 1-1 Tsitsipas
Last meeting: 2019 Australian Open (Tsitsipas won 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6)
Roger Federer’s 100th career title has been coming for some time now. As long as he keeps on playing, it has been bound to happen. Since winning in Basel last year, his best opportunity of achieving that feat was in Bercy, where he lost in an incredible semifinal match against Djokovic. But this could be his opportune moment in an event he has won seven times, against an opponent being tipped to take over as tennis’ newest superstar.
Federer’s start to the year was reminiscent to his 2018 season. He teamed with Belinda Bencic and successfully defended the Hopman Cup for team Switzerland. However, things did not go as planned at the Australian Open as Federer lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round in a match many felt it was the changing of the guard. The Swiss lost a huge chunk of ranking points for his failure to defend the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, and dropped to World No. 7. He lost a further 500 points in Rotterdam, electing not to play the event in the Netherlands–where he was also the defending champion. However, he can make up some ground to those above him with a title win in Dubai in what promises to be a physical and emotional final.
Federer needed his opening two matches to fine-tune his game this week after a one-month break. His quarterfinal match against Marton Fucsovics was slightly competitive but the result was never in doubt. The 7-time champion was unplayable in a straight sets demolition against Borna Coric in the semifinals in what was his best display this week.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas will make his top 10 debut on Monday courtesy of his sensational three-hour victory against in-form Gael Monfils. The Greek had relatively low expectations coming to Dubai after a triumphant week in Marseille and beating jetlag. There were signs of fatigue in his opening round match against Matthew Ebden, but he has played some spellbinding tennis ever since. Tsitsipas will draw inspiration from his recent win over Federer and you cannot fault him. That was a breakthrough win which propelled his rise in the rankings. However, whether he can replicate that performance is an entirely different thing.
Tsitsipas has consumed too much energy in two weeks, and he took three hours to win his semifinal. His feet will be absolutely sore tomorrow morning. Federer, on the other hand, took merely an hour to see off Coric, a player who caused him so much pain last year. That win was a statement of intent, and the Swiss will be more determined to avenge his loss to Tsitsipas.
Prediction: Federer in 2
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