Between 2003-13, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were the dominant figures in Dubai, claiming nine out of 11 titles on fast outdoor hard court. Federer grabbed the first Dubai title in 2003 and had the upper hand in the upcoming years, losing the crown only when Rafael Nadal defeated him in the title match in 2006.
Novak Djokovic started his reign in 2009, winning three titles in a row and conquering four trophies in five years, failing to extend the streak when Federer stole the crown in 2012. Two years later, two great rivals set another Dubai encounter on February 28, with Federer prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 46 minutes to dethrone Novak and advance into the eighth final from the last ten Dubai trips!
The Swiss toppled the Serb at Wimbledon and Cincinnati in 2012 before Djokovic started dominating their rivalry, scoring three straight wins and not losing to Roger for 18 months before this Dubai clash, where the more experienced player emerged at the top.
Federer had more winners and fewer unforced errors and created a small gap in the shortest and more extended exchanges to cross the finish line first. Dropping 24 points in 13 service games, Roger fended off five out of six break chances and seized three breaks from seven return opportunities, enough to cross the finish line first.
Novak was off to a strong start, holding at 15 in the first game and forcing Roger’s backhand mistake to secure an early break and forge a 2-0 lead.
Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2014 Dubai semi-final.
In the third game, the Serb held at love to confirm the advantage and fended off a break chance at 3-1 to close the game with a forehand winner and remain in front.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Djokovic survived two deuces and wrapped up the first part of the match with an ace after 35 minutes. They reached 2-2 in set number two in no time before Federer faced a break point in the fifth game.
He erased it with a beautiful backhand down the line winner, gained momentum and landed another impressive backhand down the line in the next game to secure a break and open a 4-2 gap. Playing in attacking mode, Roger clinched the set with a quick hold at love in game nine thanks to an ace down the T line and gathered momentum ahead of the decider.
Losing ground in those moments, Djokovic opened the third set with a double fault that gave Federer an instant break. The Swiss repelled two break chances in the next game to cement the lead and take another big step towards triumph after a booming backhand winner.
Returning at 3-1, Roger placed another brilliant forehand crosscourt winner to put one hand on the trophy, holding at 15 in the next one and serving for a place in the final at 5-2. Novak made one last push and created two break chances in that eighth game, only to lose the following four points and allow Federer to seal the deal with two winners.