DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Fourth-seeded Roger Federer ended top-seeded Novak Djokovic’s chance of defending his Dubai Championships title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 semifinal win on Friday.
Berdych reached his second consecutive Dubai Championships final with a tough 7-5, 7-5 semifinal win over seventh-seeded Philiipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
Federer now leads Djokovic 17-15 in their career head-to-head meetings. He also leads Djokovic 13-12 when competing on hard courts.
“He deserved to win,” Djokovic said. “He played in the second part of the match better and was more aggressive and played all around the court really well.”
Djokovic had won their last three matches and nine of their last 12 matches. He’s twice won three consecutive matches against Federer, but never has won four in a row.
“Right now I’m just happy that I was able to win the match,” Federer said. “I don’t care so much about the head-to-heads.
“But it’s nice to be in the finals here in Dubai again.”
For the first set-and-a-half, Djokovic looked as if he would have an easy time reaching the final.
Djokovic established an early lead when Federer lost his serve in an error-filled second game of the first set.
Serving at 5-3, Djokovic won the first set on his third set point of the game with a clean ace down the middle.
Midway through the second set, it seemed as though Federer remembered that his new part-time coach Stefan Edberg, who is not in Dubai, is urging him to play more offensively.
From that point on, Federer started to come into the net and volley more often, which was an effective strategy that Djokovic couldn’t handle.
“I think I was able to play a bit more aggressive as the match went on,” Federer said. “For me it was just a matter of playing consistent, but remain aggressive.
“Clearly it was close, but I think I got the right balance.”