Berdych upsets Fed in Dubai
Tomas Berdych beat defending champion Roger Federer to set up a Dubai Tennis Championships final against top seed Novak Djokovic.
Berdych defeated the five-time champion 3-6 7-6 (7) 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes on the super-fast surface to reach his second ATP Tour final in succession, but only after Federer squandered three match points.
Third seed Berdych has now defeated the Swiss ace in five of their eight meetings since 2010, including two in Grand Slam competition, while second-ranked Federer has still not reached a final in 2013.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner was in clinical form early on and comfortably broke his opponent to claim the opening set.
However, Berdych, who lost in the final of the Marseille Open last week, broke to lead 5-3 in the second set although Federer struck back immediately.
Berdych then took the match to the distance after showing superb composure and resolve by saving three match-points in a back-and-forth tiebreaker before eventually claiming it 10-8.
The final set was edge of the seat stuff as Berdych broke to lead 3-2, 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 said. "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."
He will now tackle Djokovic in Saturday's final.
The Serb will go into the contest as red-hot favourite though as he holds a 12-1 head-to-head winning record over Berdych.
Djokovic booked his place in the final with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory over Juan Martin Del Potro.
The top seed took the first set in comfortable fashion but was put under pressure in the second, which featured four breaks of serve.
Djokovic took the first set in just 36 minutes as his dangerous backhand kept Del Potro at bay, but the fourth seed hit back by breaking his opponent to go 3-0 up in the second.
However, a turning point came in the fifth game when, at break point down, the Argentine was angered after being called for a time violation and subsequently hit a forehand wide.
The Serb had won five games in a row by the time Del Potro regrouped, but the 2009 US Open champion kept his hopes alive by breaking Djokovic again to put the set on course for a tie-break, where Djokovic ultimately prevailed.
Djokovic is yet to lose this year and is on a 17-match winning streak stretching back to October 2012.
"I am proud of that record and of what I have done in my career. It's been more than successful and I am trying to cherish every moment I spend on a tennis court," Djokovic said.
"Juan Martin was very powerful, and when I was behind (in the second set) I needed to hang in there. I knew it was only one break and that I could pull it back."
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