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Federer Holds Off Del Potro, Into Seventh Dubai Final

Dubai, UAE

Federer© Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer is chasing his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.

World No. 3 Roger Federer advanced to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final for the seventh time after beating Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(5), 7-6(6) on Friday evening.

The Swiss will look to win the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tennis tournament for the fifth time when he faces World No. 4 Andy Murray in Saturday’s final. Murray had earlier beaten World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

"It was a good comeback, especially on a quick court," said Federer. "Obviously with his serve it's not really in your control. [The] same thing almost happened to me in the first set breaker. I think I was up 6 2 as well, and he got back to 6 5. So it's tough sometimes when it's all about my serve, and then you get a bit unlucky. You clip the tape. He had a couple of chances to hit the ball harder and maybe doesn't hit them as clean.

"It was a tough breaker for me. The first three points were difficult. I got down 0-3, and from then on he had the momentum. But I kind of felt like, hang in there and see what happens. I didn't believe I was going to come back. Next thing I know, I had a great point at 6 all and I was able to come through." 

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In a keenly contested second semi-final at The Aviation Club, neither player was able to break serve, though Federer was denied on six opportunities. Del Potro looked set to level the match in the second set when he led 6-2 in the tie-break. However, errors crept into the Argentine’s powerful baseline hitting and he squandered all four set points as Federer reeled off the final six points for victory in just under two hours.

It was their third meeting this season, with Federer also having won in the Australian Open quarter-finals in straight sets. He improved to a 10-2 record against the No. 10-ranked del Potro. Del Potro’s two victories over Federer both came in 2009, famously in the US Open final and the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The 23-year-old del Potro was bidding to win his third final in as many weeks on the ATP World Tour. After losing out to Federer in Rotterdam, the Tandil native won his 10th tour-level title at last week’s Open 13 in Marseille with victory over Michael Llodra.

"I think I made a good tournament, and I'm glad with my level at this moment," said del Potro. "Of course I'm sad to lose this kind of matches, because I feel like I can win. Even if I lost, I think I have improved since Rotterdam. [It] was closer than the final two weeks ago. I'm getting closer and I'm getting confidence with my level, so maybe the next time - if I play better in the important moments or the break points or in the tie-break - I could win."

Federer and Murray will meet for the first time since the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, when Federer prevailed in straight sets. Murray leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 8-6, though, including victory in the Dubai first round four years ago. "I'm just excited playing against him again after such a long time," said Federer.

The 30-year-old Federer is bidding to win his 72nd tour-level title and second of the year after victory at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament two weeks ago, when he also overcame del Potro. He previously triumphed in Dubai in 2003-2005 and 2007, and finished runner-up in 2006 and 2011, falling to Djokovic last year.

"It would be wonderful to win five [titles]," said Federer. "It's only happened at a handful of tournaments maybe in my career. It's nice to be back in another final. That's what I kind of play for, to be there and get a chance to win a tournament. I've played really well the last few months. I've hardly lost. It's great that momentum is on my side. I'm really match tough right now, and I hope I can take it one step further tomorrow. We'll see how it goes."

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