Radek Stepanek took Roger Federer the distance but in the end it was the Swiss prevailing 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the second round at Dubai Wednesday. Federer, a 5-time tournament champion, was down 2-0 in the final set before rallying to win six of the last seven games.
“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 defense.
“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.”
The fourth-seeded Federer now faces Lukas Rosol. The man who stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon a few years ago ousted Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
If Federer wins Thursday he could be slated to then meet top seed Novak Djokovic in the semis. The defending champion cruised past Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-3 for his 549th career win.
Up next for the Serb is Mikahil Youzhny. “Mikhail has been around for a long time, and he has one of the nicest and most efficient one handed backhands on the tour,” Djokovic said. “It seems a little bit unorthodox the way he holds his racquet, then [he] releases with two hands and in the end with one hand. But he’s a very talented player.”
Also on tap for Thursday is a big quarterfinal showdown between Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“Tsonga’s a very tough opponent,” said Berdych who leads the Frenchman 4-2. “He’s a really solid, [an] established player from the Top 10. He really likes these very fast conditions. It’s something that really suits his game. All the matches that we have played were very close, always a big battle. I’m really looking forward to that.”
German Philipp Kohlschreiber will also be in action against Malek Jazeri.
In Acapulco, seeds David Ferrer (d. F. Lopez), Kevin Anderson (d. Querrey), Grigor Dimitrov (d. Baghdatis) and Gilles Simon (d. Young) all won in straight sets while Ernests Gulbis needed a third set tiebreak (7-5) to advance over David Goffin.
Gulbis now plays Dimitrov in a rematch of the Latvian’s win earlier this month in Rotterdam. Also, Ferrer faces Anderson while Simon awaits the Andy Murray-Joao Sousa match still to finish.
And in Sao Paulo, top seed Tommy Haas advanced to the quarters while second-seeded Nicolas Almagro fell to Federico Delbonis.
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