By Florian Heer
(February 27, 2014) DUBAI – Four of the world’s top ten players were in action in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Philipp Kohlschreiber opened the proceedings on Centre Court in sunny and hot conditions against Tunisian Wild Card Malek Jaziri. The German contested his fourth quarterfinal of the season and won all of the two previous meetings between the two. The 30-year-old from Augsburg was in total control of the match, impressed with a good serve, capitalized on three out of his four break point opportunities and celebrated his 300th match victory on the ATP World Tour winning 6-2, 6-3 in 71 minutes.
“It’s always great to win many matches on the tour, especially a few rounds in a row,” the German was pleased afterwards. “I think I had a very solid and good performance today. We had some good rallies. I always tried to move him around on court and I was very solid from the baseline today. He played quite defensive, especially on his backhand side and I took the chances in being aggressive,” Kohlschreiber described his match plan. “Against Tsonga or Berdych I have to try something different. They are such powerful players, so I have to try dictating the match otherwise they are pushing me around,” Kohlschreiber told about his possible semi-final opponents. Jaziri’s long journey from South-America to finally arrive in Duba took its toll, as the Tunisian seemed to be a bit tired on court. “At 4-3 I was feeling so bad, so I called the doctor. I was feeling so dizzy. At this point I was thinking to stop but I preferred to continue the match. Nonetheless, it is a good result for me here. Since I have a new coach and a new manager I’m playing better with better results,” the Tunisian said.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny were scheduled to kick off the evening session with their tenth meeting on the ATP World Tour. Yesterday the Serb took just 57 minutes to dispatch of Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals in Dubai for the eighth year in succession. However, the Russian had to withdraw due to illness and so Djokovic advanced into the semis without hitting a ball today.
Consequently Dubai’s night action started with a top ten clash on the main show court when Tomas Berdych faced off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the first time in more than a year. The pair has met six times before with the Czech leading a 4-2 head to head record before the match. However, it was the Frenchman who emerged victorious in their latest encounter in the final of the Marseille in 2013. More than one year later, it was Berdych making the better start, although the almost fully packed stadium had to wait until the eighth game and the 26th minute to see the first break points of the match. At this point, Tsonga was able to save his serve but two games later, the Frenchman was under pressure again at his serve and this time Berdych capitalized on his chance to take the opening set after 35 minutes. The second set should become a more even affair. The world number 10 finally gained his first break points of the match after nearly one hour of play in the fifth game of the second set. Yet, the Czech served well, hit a couple of clean winners and saved all of them. It was Tsonga, who double faulted on break point in the ninth game and lost his service game. Berdych served out in the following winning 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 28 minutes.
“For a straight sets match it was very close. I faced many break points, which was very tough but that was really the key of today’s game to save them all,” the winning world number six stated. “I’m really feeling good, don’t facing any troubles. I’m trying to take care of my body in between all the time. When every single match is over, I try to do all possible to recover the best,” Berdych told about his physical condition. During the match the Czech got some powder on his back. “No, it’s not a sunburn. There is definitely no sun in my room,” the third-seed laughed. “I got a hot cream on my back, and it was really a hot one. It starts to be really burning and it was uncomfortable. So I was asking to get something which can help me to basically put it out or just try to clean it. Finally it happened and I was able to concentrate more on my game than on my back,” Berdych explained.
In the final encounter of the day and under floodlights in front of about 5,000 people, Roger Federer took on Lukas Rosol for the first time. The Swiss overturned a 0-2 deficit in the third set to defeat Radek Stepanek yesterday. Rosol saved all five break points in his match against eighth seed Dmitry Tursonov to advance into his first quarterfinal of the season, started really aggressive capitalizing on his first break point in the second game. From then on, however, the Swiss took command,won six games in a row to take the opening set in 28 minutes. After saving a break point in the first game, Federer also remained untroubled in the second frame. Dubai’s five-time winner broke serve in the third and fifth game to eventually serve out winning 6-2, 6-2 in only 58 minutes setting up a 32nd clash against Novak Djokovic in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
“It was a nice match today and it’s great to have another opportunity playing here tomorrow,” said a happy Federer afterwards. “Rosol was putting a lot of pressure through his forehand but yesterday’s match helped me to stay relaxed and not to panic at being 0-2 down,” the Swiss added. “Novak was able to save some energy for tomorrow. Every match you can get away from is a good one,” Federer said about Djokovic’s walkover into the semis. “For me it was also important not to be out there for three hours today. Then it would have been a disadvantage. But like this, I think it was a good and quick match for me. I guess we are back on even terms tomorrow,” the third-seed concluded.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit. Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.