The Final Four is set in Dubai. And it’s about as good as you can get. For the first time in the lucrative tournament’s history the top four seeds all reached the semifinals. That means No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Roger Federer, No.3 Tomas Berdych and No. 4 Juan Martin Del Potro.
As for today, all four easily won their quarterfinal matches at a combined clip of eight sets to none with just 18 total games lost (average of 4.5 games lost). So tomorrow we have Djokovic-Del Potro at 5pm local time (8am ET), then Federer-Berdych at 10am ET.
Now for some quick thoughts.
Novak Djokovic v. Juan Martin Del Potro
First, Djokovic is clearly the man to beat this weekend. He hasn’t lost this year (11-0, 16 straight wins) and really hasn’t had a bad loss since the Cincinnati final to Federer. Has the wind not been so bad in New York, he probably would have won the US Open and the loss to Sam Querrey in the second round at the Paris Masters was a throw away. So on hardcourts, this guy has been invincible the last six months or so. And this week he’s backed that up winning all three matches relatively easily, including today’s demolition of the 20th-ranked Andrea Seppi.
“It was an even better performance than first two matches, so match after match I’m elevating the level, which is good,” Novak said after his win today. “I’m trying to do my best on the court. Tomorrow obviously I have a big challenge, the biggest so far. Hopefully I can sustain the level from today.”
And he’s beaten Del Potro seven of nine times. Plus, the Argentine has played a lot of tennis this month and while I’m a big fan of his, I don’t think there’s enough left to get him through here. Until otherwisee…
The pick: Djokovic in two
Roger Federer v. Tomas Berdych
Let’s face it, neither guy has played anyone of any significance this week. Federer beat Jaziri, Granollers and today Nikolay Davydenko. Similarly, Berdych blasted Ram, Kamke and in the evening Davydenko’s countryman Dmitry Tursunov. Who’s had the more impressive wins? Does it matter?
Head-to-head, the 31-year-old Federer leads 11-5 but Berdych beat him at the US Open and on outdoor hardcourts he’s won three of their last four. To me, that’s important and Federer knows it.
“I’ve struggled somewhat against him, but very often it’s because his game is so big that he has a big say in the outcome of the match,” Federer said. “But I have had a couple of other ones where I have been able to come through. So we’ll see tomorrow how it goes. I haven’t seen him play at all here this tournament. I need to just focus on my game, I guess.
Federer, though, is a 5-time champion in Dubai and he calls the desert oasis his home base. It’s his backyard. But having watching a little of both guys playing this week, I think Berdych has been hitting it just a little bit better. And he just reached the Marseille final. While Federer, at his age, is starting to really struggle with the big guys (Berdych, Del Potro), so I’ll lean the way of the bird in this one (wow, I’m really picking Berdych!).
The pick: Berdych in two tiebreakers
Rafeal Nadal is also part of the weekend fun, at least he should be. As I write he’s well up on Leonardo Mayer 6-1 in his Acapulco quarterfinal and if he wins he’ll meet Nicolas Almagro tomorrow in his first true test of this comeback. Almagro is capable of giving Rafa trouble on any surface, but he’s also known for shriveling up against the big names. But it should be a good match. David Ferrer faces Fabio Fognini in the early semi so if Rafa does get through it looks like David will be waiting on Sunday.
Tennis Channel has full coverage of everything tomorrow including Delray Beach.
SATURDAY DUBAI SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 2:30 pm
M Bhupathi (IND) / M Llodra (FRA) vs R Bopanna (IND) / R Ram (USA)
Not Before 5:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  J Del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 T Berdych (CZE) vs  R Federer (SUI)
COURT 1 start 2:30 pm
J Erlich / M Youzhny vs  R Lindstedt (SWE) / N Zimonjic (SRB)
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