Djokovic and Federer to renew rivalry in Dubai

Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:52pm EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer renew their great rivalry when they meet in the final of the Dubai Championships on Saturday with both players fighting fit and ready for battle.

A few months ago they were had been supposed to bring the curtain down on the ATP Tour with a blockbuster at London's O2 Arena, only for Federer to withdraw injured.

This time, the world's top-ranked players have arrived in the final in great form and their 37th career meeting has organizers of the $2.5 million hard court event grinning.

They have 10 Dubai titles between them and while Federer leads 19-17 in head-to-heads, Djokovic prevailed in the one that really mattered last year to win the Wimbledon title.

"When you play Roger, it's always a great challenge," Djokovic, 27, told reporters after beating fourth seed Czech Tomas Berdych 6-0 5-7 6-4 in Friday's semi-final.

"If you want to win you have to play your best tennis against Roger in the finals of any event, but here particularly because I feel this is the kind of surface and conditions that suit his game best."

Three of their matches have been in Dubai, Federer winning last year's semi-final and a quarter-final against a teenage Djokovic in 2007, while the Serb won their 2011 final clash.

"I look forward to it," added Djokovic, who has reasserted his hold over the men's game by winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open in the past seven months and should be favorite to prevail on Saturday.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during their semi-final match at the ATP Championships tennis tournament in Dubai, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah