Stefanos Tsitsipas is bracing himself for a tough battle with Roger Federer in the Dubai final on Saturday after both of them secured victories in the last-four on Friday.
It is a rematch of their Australian Open fourth round clash that took place in January, which saw Tsitsipas save 13/13 break points en route to a huge four-set upset of the Swiss legend.
Federer will be going for his 100th career title when he takes to the court on Saturday, as well as a record-extending eighth crown in Dubai.
Tsitsipas secured his top-10 debut with his three-set win over Gael Monfils on Friday and expects Federer to come at him for revenge in Saturday’s final.
“I’m sure he will be pumped up. It’s not easy. It’s not easy for both of us. 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. I’m definitely expecting that,” the 20-year-old Tsitsipas said of Federer.
Roger Federer moved within two wins of a 100th career singles title with victory over Marton Fucsovics at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The 37-year-old, who is bidding to become only the second man to reach a century of tour-level tournament wins after Jimmy Connors, saw off Fucsovics 7-6 6-4 in the quarter-finals at the Aviation Club.
Federer will now face sixth seed Borna Coric for a place in a 10th final of an event he has won seven times.
Federer, winner of 20 grand slams, found the going tough against Fucsovics and faced two set points against him in the first set tie-break.
The Hungarian showed nerves and netted twice, allowing Federer to recover and take the lead but there was no procession to victory.
Federer broke early in the second set but Fucsovics broke back to level at 4-4.
The next game was briefly interrupted by rain but Federer eventually battled through it to claim what proved to be the crucial break from his fifth break point.
Croatia’s Coric earned his place in the last four by edging out Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6-2 7-6.
Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last four with a hard-fought 7-6 6-7 6-1 win over Hubert Hurkacz.
Tsitipas, who won a second ATP Tour title in Provence last week, will face in-form Gael Monfils, recent victor in Rotterdam.
Monfils ensured he will move back into the world’s top 20 next week as he beat Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-7 6-2.
Roger Federer enters Friday’s Dubai semi-finals looking to turn the table on Borna Coric after losing to the 22-year-old Croat in their last two showdowns.
The first time Federer took on Coric was in Dubai four years ago. The then teenaged Coric had just defeated a third-ranked Andy Murray in the previous round before losing easily to Federer in the semis.
Last season, Federer and Coric squared off three times, with the Swiss edging through a close three-setter in Indian Wells and his younger opponent pulling off the upset in the Halle final and the Shanghai semis later in the year.
“He’s really found his game. I remember when he came up, I played him here actually. Then also he beat Murray here, beat Rafa in Basel. That year he really made a steep ascent. Then he struggled for a while, then found his game again,” said Federer of the 13th-ranked Coric.
“We’ve had a couple tough matches as of late. He beat me on a few of those occasions. I think we’re 2-2 in the last four maybe. 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.”
Between his rough late-night scheduling and tough road to the semis, Borna Coric has been such a trooper so far this week, showing so much fight:
R1 7-5 3-6 7-6(4) 🆚 Vesely in 2hr 49min
R2 1-6 6-1 7-6(4) 🆚 Berdych in 2hr 13min
QF 4-6 6-2 7-6(1) 🆚 Basilashvili in 2hr 27min
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) February 28, 2019
Coric has had a brutal week so far in the Emirates, battling through three final-set tiebreaks in as many days, to book a spot in the semi-finals.
His latest gruelling affair ended at 1:00am in Dubai early Friday morning at the expense of Nikoloz Basilashvili.