Federer fights back to beat Stepanek to reach Dubai QFs

Five-time former champion Roger Federer staged a rousing comeback from an 0-2 deficit in the deciding set to beat Radek Stepanek at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday. Federer beat Stepanek 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and nine minutes at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament.

“I started to understand what I was doing wrong,” said Federer. “Which made me maybe play a little bit tentatively from the baseline, what made me not make enough shots and why I wasn't playing as aggressively as I wanted to. I couldn't find the right balance between offence and defence.

“It was almost a bit too late for everything, but I kind of hung around and I took the positives out of the match. Radek did a good job of putting the pressure on me and mixing it up. From that standpoint, it was a really difficult match. I'm very pleased to come through.”

Federer sealed the first set in 33 minutes, hitting 10 winners and committing just four unforced errors. At one point the fourth seed won 10 of 12 points to draw clear of Stepanek, who was seeking his third win in 15 meetings over Federer.

Stepanek battled to win his first set against Federer since May 2008 at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. He broke Federer for a 2-1 lead and served for the second set at 5-4, but Federer broke back to 15. Stepanek raised his game in the tie-break, opening up a 6-2 lead.

Stepanek came close to taking a 3-0 lead in the decider, before Federer staged a rousing comeback to win five games in a row en route to recording his 39th win in 44 matches at the Aviation Club. Federer will next play Lukas Rosol, who overcame eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov early in the day.

“Today was quite frustrating,” Federer said. “I had momentum on my side at the beginning, but it was tough to keep it going.

“After the first set I was under pressure the entire match.”

Federer could meet second seed and four-time titlist Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Date: 26th February 2014, Source: ATP


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