No. 8 Roger Federer rallied from a set and break down to defeat No. 6 Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to win the Dubai Championships for the sixth time.
With his first hard-court title since the 2012 Western & Southern Open, Federer broke a third-place tie with John McEnroe for most ATP Tour titles in the Open era. Federer has 78 titles, trailing only Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94). He's won at least one title 14 years in a row, equaling Lendl's record.
The 32-year-old Swiss has already matched last season's totals for titles (one) and victories against top-10 players (four). He also snapped a two-match losing streak to Berdych, who beat him in the Dubai semifinals last year.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion heads to next week's BNP Paribas Open full of confidence after getting past No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Berdych on back-to-back days despite losing the first set both times.
Berdych had his career-high 11-match winning streak snapped, a run that started with two victories in Davis Cup and included a title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament two weeks ago.
Federer overcame service struggles to win the ATP 500 tournament. He served at only 35 percent in the first set and won just four of 13 second-serve points as Berdych erased an early break deficit. That trend continued to start the second set, when Federer went down a break, but he found his rhythm on his serve and his strokes just in time. Federer won 15 of 16 points during one stretch in the second and third sets. He broke Berdych at 5-4 to win the second set and broke again to go up 3-1 in the third. Berdych saved two match points while serving at 2-5, but Federer held to close out the title.
Federer casually hits a half-volley drop-shot winner:
Fireworks during the trophy ceremony:
• Federer on his good form: "I've been playing really good tennis again for the last few months. I'm happy to be able to play great tennis again and hope to keep it up for a couple of weeks."
• Federer on his comeback: “I’m really happy with my game tonight and for the week. It was a tough match and Tomas had the advantage. He could – and maybe should – have brought it home. I guess I got a little lucky at times, but I fought well and I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome."
• Federer on his confidence level after a strong start to the season: "It's the mental belief that you're gonna win instead of losing -- I think that's what I got back right now."
• Berdych on the match via, The Associated Press: ''He's the greatest player of all time and he'll never give up and give you anything for free. I knew that and thought I was ready for it, but my execution wasn't good enough to hold it to the end."
Roger Federer, always looking for new challenges, tries to win an ATP final without his 1st serve
— Svenja Mastroberardi (@svenja_mastro) March 1, 2014
Take a bow, sir, you are #Federer's rockstar fan... pic.twitter.com/Ghnw4dplcY
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) March 1, 2014
And THAT is why Roger Federer is a legend. After not playing well he somehow snatches the momentum & in no time levels match. 3-6 6-4
— Barry Flatman (@Barry_FlatmanST) March 1, 2014
Federer has been winning ATP titles for so long that ... the first tournament he won no longer exists.
— Jeff Sackmann (@tennisabstract) March 1, 2014
Amazing @rogerfederer !!!! #78
— Sara Errani (@SaraErrani) March 1, 2014
Good job @rogerfederer !!!
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) March 1, 2014
Thank you Dubai...Congrats to legend @rogerfederer ...thx all fans!!!tom
— Tomáš Berdych (@tomasberdych) March 1, 2014
If you're still looking for that fountain of youth, might I suggest Dubai?
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) February 28, 2014
I like the Indian Wells, pre-tournament marketing strategy…Miso cod is great and all. But Federer playing well is the best build-up.This post has been updated.
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) March 1, 2014