Dubai Flashback: Roger Federer wins third title over Ivan Ljubicic


Dubai Flashback: Roger Federer wins third title over Ivan Ljubicic
Dubai Flashback: Roger Federer wins third title over Ivan Ljubicic

Roger Federer conquered the tennis world in 2004. The Swiss remained a player to beat a year later, winning 81 out of 85 matches in 2005 and lifting 11 ATP titles. The Swiss played six tournaments before the clay season and scored 32 wins in 33 encounters, suffering the only loss in that crazy Australian Open semi-final versus Marat Safin.

Federer conquered Doha, Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami for a massive streak. Roger met his future coach Ivan Ljubicic in four of those events, three times in the final. Federer toppled Ljubicic in Doha and Rotterdam and set another title clash in Dubai on February 27.

The Swiss scored a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 triumph in two hours and 16 minutes to celebrate his third consecutive Dubai crown. A two-time defending champion was off to a shaky start, beating Ivo Minar and Juan Carlos Ferrero in the deciding tie break and saving two match points against the Spaniard.

Roger raised his level against Mikhail Youzhny and Andre Agassi for a place in his 33rd ATP final. He won almost 20 points more than Ljubicic, overpowering the opponent on the second serve and repelling five out of seven break chances.

The Swiss kept the pressure on the other side, and the Croat could not endure it despite a solid effort. Roger won 26 out of 41 points on the second serve return and converted five out of seven break chances. Thus, he controlled the pace in sets he won and emerged at the top in the 16th straight ATP final after suffering the last loss in Gstaad in July 2003!

Federer had more winners and fewer unforced errors. He built the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range rallies, leaving Ivan behind to become the only player with three straight Dubai crowns. The Swiss had to dig deep right from the start.

He fended off three break opportunities in game three before bringing it home with a drop shot winner to bypass an immediate setback. Ljubicic wasted game points in the next one and got broken when his backhand landed long to send Federer 3-1 up.

Roger Federer claimed his third consecutive Dubai title in 2005.

The Swiss held in the next one to cement the advantage and grabbed another break in game six after the opponent's terrible forehand. Roger secured the set with a forced error a few minutes later, moving 6-1 in front and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.

Ivan sprayed a backhand error at the beginning of the second set to lose serve again and push Roger closer to the finish line. The Croat repelled another break point in game three to avoid a complete disaster and remain within one break deficit.

It gave him confidence, and he broke back in the eighth game after a running backhand winner that left Federer with no answer. The set went into a tie break, and Ivan saved a match point at 5-6 with a good serve. He stole the breaker 8-6 with a deep return that forced Roger's mistake.

The defending champion stayed focused and made a fresh start in the decider. He broke Ivan in the second game from 40-0 down before squandering game points a few minutes later and losing serve after a double fault. Returning at 4-3, Federer won a 20-shot rally to clinch the crucial break with a forehand winner.

Roger forged a 5-3 advantage and sealed the deal with a hold at 15 a few minutes later following a service winner that pushed him toward the third consecutive Dubai crown.

Roger Federer Ivan Ljubicic

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