Roger Federer chased his first Dubai crown in five years in 2012, remaining on the title course following a tight 7-6, 7-6 triumph over Juan Martin del Potro. For most of the 2011 season, Federer trailed behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The Swiss claimed the title in Doha in the opening week but avoided the trophies in the next nine months. That changed after the US Open when Federer rattled off 17 straight victories to wrap up the year in style. He conquered Basel, Paris and the ATP Finals to gain considerable momentum ahead of 2012.
Rafael Nadal halted the Swiss in the semi-final of the Australian Open. At the same time, February brought more joy to Roger, winning the title in Rotterdam and heading to Dubai, where he would lift the first title since 2007!
Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic were the players to beat in the desert between 2008-2011. Federer was the beaten finalist in 2011, losing to Novak Djokovic and hoping to change that 12 months later. Roger needed 67 minutes to kick off the assault with a 6-0, 7-6 victory over Michael Llodra.
The Swiss served well and broke the Frenchman three times in the opener before a much closer battle in set number two that he won 8-6 in the tie break. In the clash of two experienced players, Roger toppled Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3 in 76 minutes.
He dropped nine points on serve and never faced troubles on serve, scoring one break in each set to move into the last eight. In the repeat of the 2007 final, Federer raced past Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-4 in 70 minutes. He created 11 opportunities on the return and defended his serve beautifully to secure a spot in the semi-final alongside Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
On March 2, Federer and del Potro battled for precisely two hours. The Swiss prevailed 7-6, 7-6 to advance into his seventh Dubai final and defeat the Argentine for the tenth time in 12 encounters since Wimbledon 2007.
Roger Federer prevailed against Juan Martin del Potro in the 2012 Dubai semi-final.
It was already the third clash between Roger and Juan Martin in 2012, with the better-ranked opponent conquering the previous two in Melbourne and Rotterdam.
Roger repeated that in Dubai and set the final meeting with Andy Murray, who ousted Novak Djokovic. Federer lost 16 points in 12 service games, never facing a break point and creating six on the return. He failed to seize any and had to secure the victory more complexly.
The rivals needed only 19 minutes to wrap up the first six games, serving well and offering no chances to the returners. It finally appeared in the 12th game when Juan Martin served to stay in the set. The Argentine repelled two set points with some brave hitting to reach a tie break.
Federer forced an error from his opponent to move 5-2 up and converted the fourth set point with a forehand crosscourt winner at 6-5 to secure the opener and gain a massive boost. Facing the ultimate challenge in the second set's third game, del Potro fended off three break points to remain on the positive side.
He erased another at 2-2 with a forehand winner, and they both served well in the rest of the set to introduce another tie break. The Argentine opened a 5-0 advantage, looking good to send the encounter into a decider despite all the problems.
Serving at 6-2, Juan Martin sent a sharp forehand long to waste a set point. Federer erased the following two set points with winners, reducing the deficit and leveling the score at 6-6 following a massive forehand mistake from del Potro that would cost him dearly.
Roger's backhand endured all the efforts in the 13th point to secure another mini-break, sealing the deal when Juan Martin sprayed a backhand mistake to complete an escape and move through in straight sets.
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