Roger Federer made his Dubai debut in 2002 and became a champion a year later, claiming his sixth ATP crown without losing a set. The Swiss defended the title in 2004 after beating Feliciano Lopez for his first trophy as world no.
1, preparing a three-peat in 2005. Roger achieved that eventually, but the opening two rounds were anything but easy. The Swiss beat Ivo Minar and Juan Carlos Ferrero in the deciding set tie break, continuing where he left against Ivan Ljubicic in the Rotterdam final.
Federer was a few points away from defeat against Minar (was 3-1 down in the decider), while the Spaniard pushed him to the limits in the next match, creating two match points at 6-4 in the third set's tie break. Roger kept his composure to claim the encounter's last four points, book a place in the quarters and extend his winning streak.
The battle lasted for two hours and 16 minutes, and we saw three breaks of serve on each side. Roger had 11 chances to steal the rival's serve and saved six out of nine break points to prevail over Juan Carlos for the fifth time in eight matches.
The action kicked off with a break of serve when Federer sent a forehand long. A chance to pull it back appeared in game four when he earned four break chances, wasting them and sending Juan Carlos 3-1 up. A forehand winner gave Ferrero another break opportunity in game seven.
Roger saved it with an ace and closed the game with a forehand down the line winner to stay within one break deficit. The Spaniard hit well from both wings and wrapped up the opening set with a service winner in game ten, taking a 6-4 lead and moving closer to the finish line.
Roger Federer saved two match points vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero in Dubai 2005.
With a boost on his side, Juan Carlos created two break chances at the beginning of set number two and seized the second to gain a set and a break advantage.
Roger had no room for errors if he wanted to return to the scoreboard, firing a backhand down the line winner to create three break points in game four. The second did the job for the Swiss when Ferrero netted a smash, and the battle was on once again.
Federer was in the zone and secured another break at 3-2 following Ferrero's loose backhand that moved him in front, rattling off five straight games and forging a 5-2 lead. Juan Carlos could have broken back in game nine with three break chances up for grabs, but Roger blasted three winners to repel them and cemented the set with a backhand winner for 6-3.
Federer wasted a break chance in the third set's opening game and was on the verge of defeat at 2-3 when he offered an opportunity to Ferrero after a loose forehand. The defending champion saved it with a sharp volley at the net before falling on the second break point to push the Spaniard 4-2 ahead.
The next game proved to be one of the most important ones, and Juan Carlos could not stand the pressure, hitting a double fault to drop serve and the advantage before Roger climbed back with a quick hold in game eight for 4-4.
In the last four games, both players held with ease to set up a deciding tie break where they kept their serve secured in the first nine points. An ace gave Ferrero a 5-4 advantage, and a return winner delivered two match points for him.
With his back pushed against the wall, Roger erased the first with a service winner and another when Juan Carlos' forehand finished beyond the baseline in his most expensive miss of the day. A forehand winner earned the first match point for the Swiss, and he sealed the deal with an unreturned serve in the 14th point, avoiding an early exit and continuing the charge towards the third Dubai crown.