Roger Federer claimed his first Dubai crown 18 years ago, using a favorable draw before the final and toppling Jiri Novak to seal the deal without losing a set. A couple of months later, the young Swiss conquered Halle and Wimbledon, mastering the fastest surface and adding the first Major trophy to his collection.
Roger had the opportunity to become world no. 1 that summer, but that had to wait until the Australian Open 2004 title, following triumphs over other notable youngsters, Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marat Safin.
With no time for rest, Federer flew back to Europe to deliver two Davis Cup singles wins over Romania, lost in the Rotterdam quarter-final and took some time to rest ahead of Dubai, where he was the defending champion. A month after beating him in Melbourne, Roger faced Marat Safin in the first round and stayed on the court for two hours, fending off nine out of 11 break chances to remain in touch and taking both tie breaks to prevail in straight sets and avoid an upset.
In round two, on March 4, Roger took down Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 28 minutes to stay on the title course, delivering the fifth triumph over the Spaniard in as many matches and taking all 11 sets against another promising youngster.
Roger Federer defeated Tommy Robredo in straight sets in Dubai 2004.
Federer erased all three break chances to mount the pressure on the other side of the net and seized one break in each set from 12 opportunities to cross the finish line and advance into the last eight.
The Swiss grabbed the first break in game four thanks to a forehand winner after a 24-shot rally, with Robredo earning a chance to break back thanks to a beautiful backhand down the line winner in the next game. Roger saved a break point with a forehand winner and landed another to bring the game home and extend the lead to 4-1.
Federer erased a break chance with an ace in the ninth game and sealed the opening set after forcing Robredo's error for 6-3. The Spaniard got broken at 2-2 in set number two, surviving another challenging service game at 2-4 and staying within one break deficit before Roger moved over the top with a hold in game ten to move into the quarters.