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Defending champion Novak Djokovic gave his indifferent clay court season a massive boost on Saturday night by producing an impeccable 80 odd minutes of tennis to reach the brink of winning his semi-final encounter against a very much in-form Roger Federer, before going through a 20 minute emotional roller coaster before eventually emerging victorious 6-2, 7-6 to set up a final date with the 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal.
The much hyped semi-final showdown between the best two players in the world at present failed to live up to expectations as Federer produced an enormous 42 unforced errors, an even number from each wing to help Djokovic emerge triumphant. Not to say that Novak did not deserve his win, the 24-year old Serb was on fire for the better part of the contest, keeping Federer 5 feet behind the baseline and moving him from side to side without relief. Novak's groundstrokes also had a considerable more amount of muscle behind them and the Swiss maestro just failed to deal with the extra heat.
Federer started the first set comfortably enough, holding serve with relative ease before Djokovic won three games on the trot, breaking the Swiss legend in the third game and consolidating the break in his following service game. An insurance break in the seventh game sealed the fate of the opening set as Djokovic served with solidity and didnâ€™t concede even a single break opportunity in the 40 minute set.
The second set was more of the same as Djokovic broke Federer again and was looking all set to seal the victory as he served for the match at 5-4. But then came a late charge from Federer as he saved a match point and broke Djokovic on the first break point the Serb conceded to draw level at 5-5. Federer held his serve comfortably in the next game and threatened to steal the second set, but the world no.1 held his nerve to force a tie-break.
Djokovic started the tie break with a mini break of service after another exceptional rally, and held his serve to lead to pull ahead 3-0. Federer was struggling to land his first serve all match, and that continued in the tiebreak as Djokovic kept his lead intact at 5-2. A couple of rare big ones from the Federer racquet put all the pressure back on the shoulders of Djokovic as he tried to close out the match for a second time at 5-4 in the breaker with 2 serves to follow. This time the young Serb did get the job done, beating Federer for the 11th time in his career, and the fourth time in their last five meetings to book his spot in Sunday's final.
The defending champion will now face the record 5-times Rome Masters champion Rafael Nadal in tomorrowâ€™s final. While Nadal will be looking to reclaim the crown he lost to Djokovic in last yearâ€™s final, Novak will be keen on paying back the Spaniard for the drubbing he received in their last meeting in Monte Carlo in April. A terrific contest promises to be on the cards.
File Photograph Copyright: Dubai Open
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