Qualifier Donskoy Stuns Federer In Dubai
World No. 116 saves three match points
Evgeny Donskoy saved three match points as he pulled off a stunning upset on Wednesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, ousting seven-time former champion Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(5) in an absorbing final match of the day.
Federer looked poised to claim his ninth victory of the year when he held match points at 6/4 and 7/6 in the second set tie-break, before Donskoy fought back to force a decider. Federer looked to have regrouped when he broke in the sixth game of the third set and served for the match at 5-4, but again he failed to close out victory, losing his serve to 30.
Donskoy then turned the tables as he broke Federer in the 11th game. But, serving for the biggest win of his career against the 18-time Grand Slam champion, the Russian was broken to love as the pulsating match when to a deciding tie-break.
Federer once again put himself in a commanding position as he led 5/2 with two serves to come. But in an astonishing turn of events, World No. 116 Donskoy reeled off the final five points of the match to prevail in just over two hours.
“I surprised everyone today. I think whoever wins against Roger (Federer) surprises himself,” said Donskoy. “I can say it's a dream come true, but I don't like this, because you always want to win, even if it's Roger.”
It is just the third time since 2007 that Federer has been beaten by a qualifier (2013 Hamburg vs Delbonis; 2015 Shanghai vs Ramos). The Basel native suffered his first defeat of the 2017 season, having made a remarkable comeback from a five-month injury layoff by defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open.
The 35-year-old Federer was bidding to win the title at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament for the eighth time. He drops to a 48-6 tournament record.
Through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since a semi-final showing at 2015 Moscow, the 26-year-old Donskoy will face seventh seed Lucas Pouille.