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Roger Federer vs Borna Coric ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Federer must snap two-match losing streak against Coric to keep century bid alive in Dubai

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 1 Mar 2019
  • Roger Federer vs Borna Coric is live from Dubai on Friday, 1 March from 7:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT
  • The head-to-head is 2-2, but Coric has been victorious in the last two meetings
Roger Federer. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Roger Federer continues his quest for an eighth Dubai title on Friday when he takes on Croatian young gun, Borna Coric in the semi-finals. 

Federer is also bidding to claim a milestone 100th ATP World Tour titles, but still requires two more wins if he is to join Jimmy Connors as the only men in the Open Era to hit a century of titles. (Connors ended his career with 109).

It hasn't been the most convincing week for Federer, as he needed three sets to get past Philip Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco in the opening couple of rounds, and was pushed hard again by Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics in the quarter finals on Thursday before coming through 7-6 6-4. The match against Fucsovics could have easily been another three-setter, as Federer had to save two set points in the opening set tie break. The great Swiss was inconsistent off the ground, hitting 34 unforced errors as against 19 winners, and could be seen muttering to himself in bewilderment and frustration after some of those groundstroke errors, but he overcame his struggles and a couple of brief rain delays to get over the line after an hour and 52 minutes.

"The tie-break was tough. I'm happy I found a way to get out of that one. That was an exciting match, to say the least", Federer said. 
“I'm very happy to have found a way to the semis," the Swiss continued. "It was a good level of play considering all the difficulties that were on the court today."

Federer saved a break point in the opening game of the match, but the rest of the first set passed without any more break points. The impressive Fucsovics appeared set to take the opener when he held a 6-4 lead in the tie break, but his nerves betrayed him down the stretch as a couple of forehand errors let Federer off the hook. Both men traded breaks early in the second set, but Federer made the decisive move in the ninth game, converting his fifth break point of a marathon game (that also featured a rain delay) before serving out the match to reach his 11th Dubai semi-final.

The Swiss is playing just his second tournament of the season, with his only other appearance being at the Australian Open, where he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round. Federer is looking to claim his first title since winning his home event in Basel last October. He had earlier won titles at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Stuttgart, while he made finals at Indian Wells, Halle and Cincinnati. It was a generally successful 2018 by general standards, but Federer would have wanted a little bit more, especially at the Slams where he suffered quarter final and fourth-round exits at Wimbledon and the US Open.

He isn't exactly playing at his best level at the moment, which makes Friday's Dubai semi-final against Borna Coric a very intriguing affair, especially given the recent history between the two, with Coric winning two of their three matches last year.

Borna Coric. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Coric has hardly been in great form this week, as he has needed three sets in all of his matches, beating Jiri Vesely, Tomas Berdych and Nikoloz Basilashvili to reach the Dubai semis for the second time. While his overall form has not been great, he has again showed characteristic resolve and fighting spirit, especially in the last couple of matches when he's had to recover from very slow starts to stay in the tournament. He was thoroughly outplayed in the opening set against Berdych, but he responded superbly to dominate the second set, and then held his nerve in the final set tie break for a battling 1-6 6-1 7-6 victory- his first win over the Czech in four attempts. His match against Basilashvili followed a similar pattern- second best in the first set, emphatic response in the second, and finding a way to get over the line in a tight final set. The Croatian won 4-6 6-2 7-6, and has now gone well over two hours in each of his three matches.

Perhaps Coric can do with the lengthy court time as he has not played a lot this season. This is only his third tournament of the year, following a fourth-round run at the Australian Open and an opening round defeat to Ugo Humbert in Marseille.

A fine 2018 had yielded an ATP 500 title in Halle, a Masters 1000 final in Shanghai and a semi-final at Indian Wells, all of which propelled into the world's top 15. Interestingly, Coric played Federer in each of those three tournaments, winning in Halle and Shanghai, after losing narrowly at Indian Wells, having twice led by a break in the final set.

Overall, their head-to-head is 2-2, with Federer's other victory (outside Indian Wells), coming in Dubai against a teenage Coric in the 2015 semi-finals. 

"He's really found his game. I remember when he came up, I played him here actually [in 2015]. Then he also beat Murray here, beat Rafa in Basel," Federer said.   
"We've had a couple tough matches as of late. He beat me on two of those occasions. I think we're 2-2 in the past four... I'm happy for Borna to have really understood his game. That's really important at the top level if you want to win the big tournaments, which he has now."

Neither man has consistently played his best this week in Dubai, which adds to the intrigue surrounding this match. Generally, Coric's baseline tenacity and rapidly improving offence was too good for Federer last season, and given the scratchiness of Federer's performances this week, there is a big opportunity in there for Coric to raise his own level and complete a hat-trick of wins over the great Swiss.

Roger Federer vs Borna Coric is live from Dubai on Friday, 1 March from 7:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT

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Roger Federer vs Borna Coric ATP Dubai Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Federer must snap two-match losing streak against Coric to keep century bid alive in Dubai

Roger Federer continues his quest for a 100th career title on Friday when he plays Borna Coric in the Dubai semi-finals. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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