Back in 2014, Roger Federer claimed the sixth title in Dubai over Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych, returning even stronger a year ago to defend the crown as world no. 2. The Swiss had a rock-solid run at one of his favorite events in 2015, defeating five rivals in around four and a half hours (Gasquet hat to retire after 20 minutes due to an injury) to grab the seventh Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy and extend his dominance almost 15 years after making a debut in the desert.
After that short quarter-final campaign versus Gasquet, Roger faced Borna Coric on February 27 and toppled the young Croat 6-2, 6-1 in 56 minutes, delivering his most impressive semi-final triumph in Dubai since 2005 when he gave four games to Andre Agassi.
An 18-year-old came to Dubai ranked 84th, winning two out of five matches that season and struggling in the desert as well following the qualifying loss to Fabrice Martin in the deciding tie break. Borna managed to get into the main draw as a lucky loser and kick off a notable journey, prevailing against Malek Jaziri and Marcos Baghdatis before storming over Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, dropping five points behind the initial shot and hoping for more of the same on the next day against Roger Federer.
After those five matches, the youngster didn't have much left in the tank for the great rival, with Federer dominating from start to finish in their first meeting to book the place in the ninth Dubai final. Roger did lose serve once but no one could notice that after he stole a staggering 63% of the return points, seizing five breaks from seven chances to control the pace and march towards the finish line.
The defending champion had 20 winners and 25 unforced errors, not the best ratio out there but more than enough to eclipse miserable three winners from Borna and 22 unforced errors, having the upper hand in both the shortest and more extended rallies to stay on the title course after a relaxed day at the office.
The youngster created a break chance in the very first game, denied by a booming serve from Roger who fired one more to erase the second break point, sealing the game with another unreturned serve to avoid an early setback.
Coric sprayed a forehand error in game two to suffer a break at 15, allowing Federer to move 3-0 up after an ace in the next game and gain complete control. The Croat held at 15 to get his name on the scoreboard, with three break chances up for grabs in game five.
He needed only one to pull the break back when Federer netted a forehand, returning to the positive side of the scoreboard and staying there only for a couple of minutes as Roger broke again following a double fault from a teenager to open a 4-2 gap.
A volley winner sent the Swiss 5-2 in front and he closed the set with a break at love a few minutes later for a 6-2 in swift 26 minutes. Unable to find the rhythm, Coric netted a backhand in game two of the second set to give serve away and see himself 3-0 down soon after that.
Facing a break point, Borna held in game four to at least avoid a bagel, taking two points on the return in the next game before Roger landed two service winners for a hold and a 4-1 lead. Covering the court beautifully, the defending champion secured another break to move closer to the finish line, sealing the deal with a comfortable hold and set the title clash against Novak Djokovic.