Twelve months after making his Dubai debut in 2002, Roger Federer was back in the desert as a top-10 player and a Masters 1000 champion. The Swiss was among the title favorites in 2003, and he proved that on the court in the desert.
Roger defeated Jiri Novak 6-1, 7-6 in the title clash to lift his sixth ATP crown. Roger lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open to David Nalbandian in five sets before scoring two Davis Cup wins and an ATP title in Marseille.
Federer took no rest following the Rotterdam semi-final loss and entered Dubai as the top seed. Roger faced Irakli Labadze in the opening round and claimed a 6-3, 6-3 win in 63 minutes. Federer lost serve once and broke the opponent four times for a place in the last 16.
The Swiss toppled an unknown German, Maximilian Abel, 6-4, 7-5 in 80 minutes after converting three break chances. Hicham Arazi managed to break Roger's twice in the quarter-final, and the top seed responded with four breaks of serve for a place in the last four.
Roger Federer claimed his first Dubai title in 2003 over Jiri Novak.
Federer raised his level and ousted Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-2 in 55 minutes, delivering three breaks and dropping eight points behind the initial shot. Roger met the 3rd seed Jiri Novak in the title clash and scored a 6-1, 7-6 triumph in an hour and 16 minutes for his first trophy in the desert.
The young gun served at 39% and still faced only two break points. Novak converted both, but he needed more to remain in touch. Federer seized four out of nine break chances and clinched the tie break 7-2 to emerge at the top.
Roger was a more aggressive player, which carried him over the top. He had the advantage in the mid-range and most extended exchanges to forge the victory, especially in the opening set. Jiri sprayed a forehand error in the encounter's second game to experience an early setback.
Roger gained a boost and grabbed his second break at 4-1, serving for the set in game seven. Federer blasted a forehand winner for 6-1, playing well so far and looking good to bring the victory home in no time. Novak bounced back at the start of the second set.
He broke Roger after a long rally in game two but stayed in front only for a few minutes. Federer pulled the break back in the next one to erase the deficit before facing more troubles behind the initial shot. Jiri broke him at love in game four to forge a 3-1 advantage, hoping for more in the rest of the set.
Instead, Roger cracked a forehand winner in game five to pull the break back for the second time and remain on the positive side. Novak saved a break opportunity at 5-5 to reach a tie break and extend his chances. However, Federer stayed focused and clinched it 7-2 with a backhand crosscourt winner to celebrate his second ATP 500 crown after Vienna last year.