On this day: Roger Federer moves ahead of John McEnroe on exclusive list

A year after he lost the Dubai title to Tomas Berdych, who toppled him in the semi-final, Roger Federer bounced back to claim the sixth crown in the desert on March 1, 2014, coming from a set down to beat the Czech 3-6, 6-4, 6-3! The Swiss had struggled to deal with the world’s best players in the past year and a half, winning just one tournament after Cincinnati 2012 and entering Dubai as world no. 8, his worst ranking position since November 2002! Roger kicked off the action with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Benjamin Becker, losing just 12 points on serve and moving over the top with three breaks of serve. He had to work much harder against Radek Stepanek, though, giving serve away four times in a 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 triumph after over two hours, prevailing with eight breaks to set the quarter-final meeting with another Czech Lukas Rosol. This time, Federer was more efficient, needing 58 minutes to wrap up the encounter 6-2, 6-2 and advance into his ninth Dubai semi-final, saving energy for more challenging matches.

Federer came from a set down to dethrone world no. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, playing better and better as the match progressed and securing the place in the final where he had a chance to avenge that Berdych loss from the previous year. The clash lasted two hours, and Roger notched the 12th victory in 18 encounters against Tomas, who celebrated in the last two, overcoming a slow start to cross the finish line first and lift the trophy. Both players struggled to find the first serve, and we saw ten break chances on each side, with Roger fending off seven of those and earning four breaks to prevail and claim the first ATP title since Halle last June.

Roger Federer defeated Tomas Berdych in three sets to win Dubai 2014 crown.

Federer forged an early lead with a break at love at 1-1, but Tomas stayed calm. The Czech pulled the break back after a few minutes and delivered another to move 4-2 up and settle into an excellent rhythm. Serving for the set at 5-3, Berdych landed a service winner to grab the opener and come closer to his first Dubai crown.

Federer repelled two break points in the second set’s fifth game with aces, but his forehand went long on the third to send Tomas a set and a break up, with no room for further errors if he wanted to emerge at the top. The Swiss broke back in the next game when Berdych netted a backhand and had the momentum, claiming the last eight points of the set to seal it with a break in game ten and become a favorite ahead of the decider. Tomas saved three break chances at the beginning of the third set and earned one of his own a few minutes later, denied by a forehand winner from Federer, who made the decisive move with a break that propelled him 3-1 in front.

Roger cemented the lead with a hold at 15 but wasn’t that efficient the next time he served, fending off two break points to stay ahead and creating two match points on the return at 5-2. Tomas gave his best to save them and prolong the match before Federer held at 15 a service winner in game nine to wrap up the triumph and restore the Dubai crown he lost a year ago. It was Roger’s 78th ATP title, leaving John McEnroe on 77 and becoming the third-best player in the Open era behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

Tennis – On March 1, 2014, Roger took down Tomas Berdych to lift the 78th ATP title in Dubai, leaving John McEnroe on 77

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