Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are in contention to win a big-time tennis tournament.
It’s true once again, this time at the Dubai Tennis Championships, where Djokovic defeated Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (5), 6-3 and Federer took out Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3 in order to advance to the tournament’s quarterfinal stage. Djokovic, the top ranked player in the men’s game, is looking to take home his fourth consecutive championship in Dubai. The Serbian star struggled at times in his first match since winning it all in the Australian Open, but nonetheless kept up hope for a fourth straight victory in Dubai alive with a solid comeback after being down 3-1 in the second set, earning a match-up with fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.
“The difference between the top players and maybe the lower-ranked players is actually those moments,” explained Djokovic. “And managing to keep your composure and cope with the pressure and just focus, have an extra focus, mental strength.”
Federer, on the other hand, had more trouble in the first set, having to break his opponent’s serve in order to win. In the next frame, however, things went more smoothly for the all-time great. Federer lost to Djokovic in the Dubai final last year, but has four titles himself, and is coming off a win in Rotterdam.
“It was tough getting used to [Lopez’s] serve early on,” said Federer, who will face Russian Mikhail Youzhny in a rematch of the 2007 final next. “I wasn’t having many looks — he was serving aces left and right.”
Federer has never lost to Youzhny in 11 career matches, so don’t be surprised if the Swiss star advances to eventually face the current top player in the men’s game, Djokovic, further along in the tournament.