Tsitsipas the last hurdle as Federer chases 100th title

With his semifinal win, Tsitsipas will enter the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in his career.

Roger Federer defeated Borna Coric in straight sets in the semifinal of the Dubai Championships.   -  Reuters

Roger Federer will play for his 100th career title on Saturday after demolishing Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships, while Stefanos Tsitsipas has the chance to stop Federer in his pursuit, after booking a place in the final on Friday with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4) win over Gael Monfils.

The semifinal win put the 37-year-old Federer into his tenth final in the emirate and 152nd of his career.

“I'm incredibly excited about the final,” said Federer.

Jimmy Connors holds the record for men on 109 titles although even that is a long way behind Martina Navratilova's collection of 167 in the women's game.

"Reaching 100 titles -- we're still far from it. I'm just going to try to focus and play good tennis,” said Federer.

“Maybe the final is a little bit of a revenge match,” admitted Federer on the prospect of facing Tsitsipas again.

Federer, seven times a Dubai champion, will have a score to settle with final opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas, who booked his place in the championship match with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4) win over Gael Monfils. The Greek youngster stunned Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January in their only previous tour meeting.

Federer also gained revenge for two losses he took last season against Coric, who beat him in the Halle final on grass and at the Shanghai Masters semifinals. The Swiss star grabbed the opening set in 22 minutes and began the second with a break on the way to his comfortable win in blustery conditions.

Stefanos Tsitsipas entered the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in his career with the win over Gael Monfils in the Dubai Championships semifinal.

“I'm very happy, it's great to get to another final here,” Federer said. “Borna played third-set tiebreakers in his last three matches, so he might have been tired. I was the guy who was able to take advantage of it. I'm incredibly excited about the final.”

Tsitsipas came back from a set down at the Aviation Club to win a three-set thriller that packed nearly three hours with powerful rallies and daring shots. The Greek will enter the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in his career thanks to the win, making him youngest among the rest.

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“I don't know how I won,” said Tsitsipas. “I was playing relaxed today, enjoying every moment. I was serving well and timed my returns. I had confidence going into the tiebreakers.”

For Monfils defeat brings to an end an eight-match winning streak and an entertaining run in Dubai that comes a fortnight after winning in Rotterdam.

Monfils won five games in a row to take the opening set after going down a break, but was pegged back in a tense second that Tsitsipas won on a tie-break. The Frenchman could easily have won the match had he not let four break points slip when 4-3 up in the final set, while Tsitsipas had to recover from three double faults at 5-6 down to force the tie-break from which he eventually won the match.

“I had some opportunities, I couldn't make them great today,” said Monfils. “I need to be better, that's it. I need to be better to win those big matches.”