Dubai: Roger Federer lined up a mouth-watering revenge encounter with Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas as he eased into the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday.
Chasing a record eighth title and a century of career crowns, Federer churned out an easy 6-2, 6-2 win over Croatian youngster Borna Coric in the second semi-final before a packed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
That set up a tantalising final against Tsitsipas, who famously dumped the former World No. 1 in four sets in their Round 4 match at this year’s Australian Open in Melbourne.
Tsitsipas had continued with a sore back for an engrossing and entertaining 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) win over French veteran Gael Monfils in the earlier semi-final.
Down by a set and 1-3, the 20-year-old Greek who later conceded he had a sore back coming on court, simply came up with yet another classical display of shots and entertainment to outwit an opponent 12 years his senior.
Both players were quite keen in the rematch on centre court at 7pm on Saturday.
“I’m practising,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m doing everything, all the hard work, to face these guys and beat them. The biggest joy is to beat the top-10 guys.”
Making his second final within a week after winning the Marseille Open last Sunday, the Greek admitted that he was having problems with his back.
“I’m sure he [Federer] will be pumped up. It’s not easy for both of us. He obviously wants to beat me. For him, that loss [Australian Open] was a big thing.”
Tsitsipas said he was sure sure Federer would come to the court fully fired up and seeking revenge.
“I’m definitely expecting that, but let’s see how the body feels,” he said.
Pushed to reveal his preferred opponent in the final, the 20-year-old Greek said: “I guess Coric, I don’t know. It would be nice to have two not-NextGen-but-young guys play against each other. That’s how I think of it.”
Federer was also keen on Saturday’s meeting against his Greek adversary.
“I am looking forward to it, maybe a little bit,” he said. “We already played a couple times this year, in the Hopman Cup and then the Australian Open.
“Obviously I was horribly disappointed and upset that I missed as many breakpoints as I did, had all the opportunities I had. That match kind of hurt in some ways,” Federer admitted.
“But, it’s part of the game. He did very well to get out of those tricky situations. Again, he did the same again tonight against Monfils. He gets it done that way. It’s not the classic one-dimensional way. He has many ways to do it. That makes him tough to play, tough to beat,” he added.
Federer said Tsitsipas had shown at the Australian Open how hard he is.
“I hope I’m going to play well,” the Swiss star said. “I’m more focused just on my own game, to be quite honest, than him. Probably reaching a hundred titles. We’re still far from it, it seems. I’m just going to try to focus and play good tennis.”
Earlier, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury had stopped Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau from heading for a third straight title in Dubai with a 7-6, 6-3 win. They will meet the winners of the second doubles semi-finals that was on centre court between Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff and the Indian pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja.
(Singles semi-finals) Stefanos Tsitsipas bt Gael Monfils 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4); Roger Federer bt Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2.
(Doubles semi-final) Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury bt Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau 7-6, 6-3.