After three dominant seasons on the Tour, world no. 1 Roger Federer returned for more of the same in 2007, defending the Australian Open title and taking well-deserved rest ahead of Dubai that took place a month later. Standing as the player to beat in Dubai in the last couple of years, Federer won 19 straight matches in the desert to conquer titles in 2003, 2004 and 2005, finishing runner-up in 2006 to Rafael Nadal and returning to one of his favorite events a year later, eager to regain the trophy.
Struggling a little bit against Kristian Pless in the first round, Federer fended off both break points in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Danielle Bracciali, setting the quarter-final clash against the upcoming teenager Novak Djokovic.
It was the fourth meeting between Roger and Novak and the fourth triumph for the Swiss who prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and three minutes, advancing into the fifth straight semi-final in Dubai. A couple of weeks earlier, Federer took down Djokovic in straight sets in Melbourne en route to the Australian Open crown, with the youngster playing on a higher level in this one to take the second set and challenge Roger for more than two hours.
Roger played better on both the first and second serve, fending off three out of five break chances and securing four breaks that kept him safe, producing aggressive tennis and hitting more than 30 winners and unforced errors.
Djokovic had around 15 winners and that wasn't enough to keep the points on his racquet, despite the fact he had fewer errors than the Swiss. Federer had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, staying focused after that tight second set to remain on the title course.
Novak broke at 15 in the first game for the best possible start, holding with a service winner to confirm the break and settle into a fine rhythm early on. The Swiss broke back in game six following an impressive defense and a drop shot error from Djokovic, holding at 15 in the next game to move in front.
With the momentum on his side, Roger grabbed another break in game eight, closing the opener with a hold at love after an ace for a 6-3 and kicking off set number two with another break. Serving at 4-3, Federer sent a forehand wide to give serve away and bring Novak back to the positive side of the scoreboard, with the Serb fending off a break chance at 5-5, repelling two match points in the tie break to steal it 8-6 and prolong the battle.
Staying focused, the Swiss served well in the decider and broke the Serb at love in the eighth game, moving over the top a few minutes later on his serve to advance into the semi-final.