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Federer, Djokovic Back In Dubai QFs

Dubai, UAE

Federer© Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer is chasing a sixth Dubai crown.

Roger Federer inched closer to a sixth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title on Wednesday as he advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers. The Swiss’ backhand and reflexes were razor sharp as he broke serve once in each set to prevail in 71 minutes.

World No. 2 Federer is chasing his first ATP World Tour title since August, when he won his 76th tour-level crown at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Djokovic). The 31 year old has a 36-4 record at this ATP World Tour 500 hard court tournament, having lifted the trophy in 2003-05, ’07 and last year, beating Andy Murray in the final.

“I think I was sharper today,” said Federer. “I had a clearer plan. I knew what I could and couldn't do.  So that automatically carves out sort of the things you might want to attempt. I was a bit more confident overall.  I knew what I wanted to do and I was able to do it, so I'm happy.”

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On Thursday Federer will resume his rivalry with Nikolay Davydenko, over whom he holds an 18-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record. The Russian, a finalist at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha at the start of the season (l. to Gasquet), defeated Victor Hanescu 6-4, 7-6(2) in one hour and 48 minutes.

“I'll never disrespect a guy like Nikolay,” said Federer of Davydenko, who has dropped from a career-high No. 3 to No. 46 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “He's done too much in the game. That's why I know it's a dangerous round next match. I know what he can do on his absolute best day because I was one of the guys that got crushed by him as well during that time. I expect him to come out and play that way.”

In the final match of the day, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic overcame late resistance from Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut to prevail 6-1, 7-6(4). The Serb was broken when serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set and squandered four match points in the 10th game. The No. 55-ranked Bautista Agut then fought back from a 2-5 deficit in the tie-break before Djokovic clinched victory at the fifth time of asking in 90 minutes.

“I think I played really, really well and at a high level throughout most of the match," said Djokovic. "And then I had another poor game like yesterday towards the end, when I needed to close it out with a few match points. At 5-4 he served well, he fought his way through, and I have to give them credit for that. He's a great competitor. I never played against him, so I didn't know really what to expect. But generally I'm feeling quite confident on the court, which is a good thing."

The 25-year-old Djokovic is looking to regain the Dubai trophy, having been dethroned in the semi-finals last year (l. to Murray) after titles in 2009-11. The Serb has a perfect 10-0 record on the season, having opened with victory at the Australian Open (d. Murray).

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