Thursday, February 26, 2015

DUBAI: Federer schools Verdasco to make the quarter-finals, Ilhan shocks Lopez

 Photo via Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Roger Federer impressed even himself with one of the most emphatic mid-match stretches in recent years when he won 20 points in a row to climb back from a break down against Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday night.

The six-time Dubai champion fell behind 0-3 early on in his second round against Verdasco, who was showcasing some ninja-like tennis, pulling off some incredible shots.

But down 1-4, Federer, buoyed by a loud crowd that resembled a Davis Cup audience, won 20 successive points, breaking the Spaniard twice to love to take the opening set in 30 minutes.

I didn't even know it happened until somebody told me afterwards,” Federer said of that remarkable sequence.

I remember when I broke him the second time around, I was like ‘was that a Love game the first time around already?’ I wasn't sure anymore. But then I forgot about it, because all I cared about was trying to stay ahead in the score, focus point for point, serve for serve.

Looking back it's quite a lot of points in a row. It's not the first time it's ever happened to me, but it's a great comeback because I did feel that Fernando was hitting the ball well and came out and played very committed, serving well, so you wouldn't expect that.”

Federer was playing some explosive tennis and put pressure on the Spanish lefty’s backhand any chance he got, which earned the No2 seed a break in the opening game of the second set.

But Verdasco tried not to go down without a fight and broke back. But Federer got the advantage he needed in the fifth game and it was suffice to close out the match 6-3, 6-3 in exactly one hour to set up a quarter-final with Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

I'm looking forward to playing against him,” Federer said of Gasquet, whom he has beaten in their last five showdowns.

Last time we played was Davis Cup final on that Sunday in front of that big crowd, and it was a lot of pressure. I think this time is going to be a bit more relaxed going in. He's had a great start to the season, also, winning a title and seems like he's playing well.

He had a tough one today, but that gave him probably a lot of match time and court time. We will see how he recovers, but we will play tomorrow night. That shouldn't be a problem.

I just love his backhand so it's always a pleasure playing against him.”

Gasquet, who sports one of the most beautiful one-handed backhands on the tour, recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the final set, saving a match point in the tiebreak, against Spanish No7 seed Roberto Bautista Agut to advance 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6).

It was the second straight time Gasquet has had to climb from behind in a final set, having also pulled a Houdini act against Andreas Seppi in round one earlier this week.

Turkish qualifier, Marsel Ilhan (pictured right), ranked No104 in the world, delivered a huge upset over world No13 Feliciano Lopez, who is twice a runner-up in Dubai, ousting the Spanish lefty 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to reach his first career ATP quarter-final.

In doubles, the Bryan brothers made a successful Middle East debut, eliminating Bautista Agut and Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2 in the first round.

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