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Federer vs Tsitsipas ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Federer avenge Australian Open loss to Tsitsipas and claim a 100th career title?

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 2 Mar 2019
  • Roger Federer vs Stefanos Tsitsipas is live from Dubai on Saturday, 2 March from 7:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT
  • Tsitsipas won their only previous meeting at the Australian Open
Roger Federer. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Roger Federer must avenge his shock Australian Open defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas if he is to leave Dubai with an eighth title at the tournament, and a 100th career title. The great Swiss tackles the Greek young gun a hugely-anticipated final on Saturday.

Tsitsipas' stinging four-set victory over Federer at the Australian Open remains one of the stand-out results of the 2019 season- can the Greek recreate that performance in Dubai or will Federer get his revenge on Saturday?

Playing his first tournament since the Australian Open, Federer looked short of his best in his first three matches in Dubai, needing three sets to get past Philip Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco and squeezing past Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics in straight sets in the quarter finals, but the real Roger Federer showed up in his semi-final against Borna Coric, displaying several elements of his greatness in a sublime 6-2 6-2 victory.

Federer was helped by an opponent who was not quite at his best, as Coric seemed to have run out of steam after a grueling week that included a trio of three-set victories, all of which were decided in final set tie breaks, and all going well over two hours, but this was still some performance to savour from Federer.

The Swiss was ruthless in exploiting his opponent's lack of movement, pulling him from side to side with crisp, accurate groundstrokes, and dragging him forward and back with exquisite drop shots. At no point did he ever look like losing, and he completed the win in 67 minutes, ending a two-match losing streak against Coric, and improving to 3-2 in their overall head-to-head. 

“I was really happy with my play today," said Federer. "In terms of feeling, [this match] was definitely by far the best one [this week], so that was good. I'm sure Borna was feeling it a little bit from his past few matches."  
“I think it was important to mix it up, be solid, not give him too many chances and keep showing him it's going to be really difficult for him to win", he continued. "At the end, I actually played really good. I'm very pleased."

Federer will get a chance to play for his 100th career title on Saturday, which would put him alongside Jimmy Connors (with 109 titles) as the only men to reach three digits in career titles won in the Open Era.

When Federer opened his 2018 season with titles at the Australian Open and Rotterdam last season to get to 98 titles, it looked almost certain that he would hit the 100 mark last year, but he added just two more titles in the rest of the season, in Stuttgart and in Basel, and was a beaten finalist at Indian Wells, Halle and Cincinnati. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas is out to ensure that Federer's wait for No. 100 continues beyond Dubai.


Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Tsitsipas has already achieved one a significant milestone in Dubai, as his semi-final victory over Gael Monfils ensured that he will break into the top 10 for the first time in his career when the rankings are updated next Monday, but the rising Greek still has more landmarks to cross, as victory over Federer on Saturday will not only give him a third career title, but also a first at ATP 500 level.

His rise over the past year has been meteoric- from being outside the top 90 at the start of last season, he had surged into the world's top 15 by the end of the year, after claiming his first career title in Stockholm, and reaching finals in Barcelona and Toronto. He stepped it up to another level at the start of 2019, launching a remarkable run to a first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, beating Federer along the way before being crushed by Rafael Nadal in the last four.

That defeat, and the run as a whole, seemed to take a lot out of the 20-year-old, as he lost his way ever so slightly after that, winning just one match between Sofia and Rotterdam, but he has been back to his best over the last fortnight, claiming a second career title in Marseille, and backing it up with a fantastic run to the Dubai final. The soon-to-be top-ten star opened his Dubai campaign with a three-set win over Matthew Ebden, before easing out Belarusian, Egor Gerasimov in the second round. Tsitsipas produced a strong finish to take out fellow young gun, Hubert Hurkacz in three sets in the quarter finals, before edging past Gael Monfils, also in three sets, in an outstanding semi-final on Friday.

Determined to stamp his authority on the flambouyant Monfils, who had also been in fine form and had won his last eight matches, Tsitsipas adopted an ultra-aggressive approach, going after the ball from the back of the court and attacking the net at every opportunity, and it worked a treat in the early stages, as he raced out to a 3-0 lead, but that provoked an inspired response from Monfils, who upped his aggression level to take control of the match from there. It was almost an angry response from Monfils, and that seemed to spook Tsitsipas, who completely lost his way for about a set and a half. Monfils went on to establish a 6-4 3-1 lead, and was seemingly on his way to the final, but a combination of a drop in his level, and a reengaged Tsitsipas helped drag the Greek back into the contest. Tsitsipas got the break back for 3-3, and went on to take the set on a tie break to even the match.

Both men had chances in the final set- Tsitsipas with three break points across the first five games, and Monfils with four opportunities when the Greek served at 3-4, but neither man could convert, and a gripping contest would fitting go down to a deciding set breaker. Monfils gave up the first mini-break with a loose error to fall 3-1 behind, and that would be the difference as the rest of the tie break went with serve, with Tsitsipas wrapping up an epic 4-6 7-6 7-6 win just under the three-hour mark.

“The whole match changed out of nowhere,” said Tsitsipas. “I have improved since last year. Beating the big guys, big players, players that have been in the Top 10, means a lot to me. I wanted to get there at some point myself, and I made it today. I don't know, [it’s] probably a special day for Greece.”

That victory was Tsitsipas' seventh in eight days, dating back to his Marseille run, and he spent the extra day flying from Marseille to Dubai. Surely fatigue must be a factor in the final? Especially after a grueling three-set semi-final? I've been making that argument in the last couple of days, but Tsitsipas has responded magnificently, showing remarkable physical and mental fitness to keep digging out those wins. Can he record another huge one over Federer on Saturday?

"I'm sure he [Federer] will be pumped up. It's not easy. It's not easy for both of us", Tsitsipas said. "He obviously wants to beat me. For him, that loss was a big thing. I'm pretty sure he will come inside the court fired up, wanting to take a revenge from me."

This will be their second official meeting (Federer defeated Tsitsipas in the Hopman Cup earlier in the year but that doesn't count as a competitive fixture), and what a match it promises to be.

“[Stefanos] showed me at the Australian Open, how hard he is [to play]," said Federer. "I hope I'm going to play well... We're still far from [reaching 100 titles], it seems. I'm just going to try to focus and play good tennis."

Federer wasn't particularly poor in that Australian Open meeting, but he was poor on the big points, going 0 of 12 on break points. However, that was also down to the bravery of Tsitsipas, who was fearless in adversity, went for his shots and was constantly charging the net.

I'm still not convinced Tsitsipas will be 100% for the final- he surely must be tired- else I would have gone for the Greek to do a repeat of his Melbourne heroics against Federer on Saturday. His serve is a huge weapon, he is good enough from the back of the court to keep Federer on the back foot, while his movement and athleticism makes it extremely tough to get through his defences. Add to that his consistent net-charging and outstanding forecourt skills, and you have the near-complete player.

However, no has been more complete that Federer over the years, and if he can replicate his semi-final form on Saturday, and doesn't slip into old habits from the previous rounds, the great Swiss should reach his century of titles. 

Roger Federer vs Stefanos Tsitsipas is live from Dubai on Saturday, 2 March from 7:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT

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Federer vs Tsitsipas ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can Federer avenge Australian Open loss to Tsitsipas and claim a 100th career title?

Roger Federer takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in a mouth-watering Dubai final on Saturday. Can the Swiss claim his 100th career title? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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