Dubai SF previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Federer vs. Coric

BerdychNovak Djokovic and Roger Federer are one round away from a blockbuster title match in Dubai. They first have to get past Tomas Berdych and Borna Coric, respectively, on Friday.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (4) Tomas Berdych

Djokovic and Berdych will be squaring off for the 20th time in their careers when they collide in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday. At least statistically, Berdych’s struggles against Djokovic are even more significant than the well-documented problems he has endured against Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is dominating the head-to-head series with the Czech 17-2, including a perfect 15-0 on hard courts. They faced each other twice last fall, with the Serb cruising 6-0, 6-2 in Beijing and 6-2, 6-2 at the World Tour Finals.

If there is any good news for Berdych, it is that he remains one of the most consistent players on tour. The world No. 8 is 15-3 this season with two runner-ups, a semifinal at the Australian Open, and wins this week over Jeremy Chardy, Simone Bolelli and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Whereas Berdych needed three sets twice, Djokovic advanced to the last four by easing past Vasek Pospisil, Andrey Golubev, and Marsel Ilhan. Nothing suggests Berdych will be able to make this one particularly competitive.

Pick: Djokovic in 2 losing 8 games or fewer

(LL) Borna Coric vs. (2) Roger Federer

It is good to be lucky, but it is even better to be good; Coric has been both this week in Dubai. After losing a qualifying match to world No. 350 Fabrice Martin, the 18-year-old Croat got a lucky-loser spot in the main draw. His good fortune continued in round two when Marcos Baghdatis retired during a third-set tiebreaker due to cramps. Coric’s run also includes a three-set victory over Malek Jaziri and a stunning 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinal upset of Andy Murray.

Up next for Coric is a first-ever meeting with Federer, who is a six-time champion in Dubai and boasts a 45-5 record overall at the tournament. The 33-year-old Swiss will be extremely well-rested after sprinting past Richard Gasquet 6-1 in their opening set on Thursday before getting a retirement from the Frenchman. Federer previously earned routine scalps of Mikhail Youzhny and Fernando Verdasco. Building on such a big win will be an almost impossible task fort Coric against an opponent like Federer.

Pick: Federer in 2 losing 8 games or fewer

30 Comments on Dubai SF previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Federer vs. Coric

  1. Can’t believe you didn’t call Coric in 2 today Ricky. Get better! Time to give the crystal ball a good dusting. I did think Murray would get dumped out unceremoniously this week, I just didn’t think it would be in this matchup. Crazy. Coric Gilles Simon’d Murray. Murray Murray’d Murray. I’m always amazed at how often lucky losers go on to do great things in a tournament. There must be some basic second chance/ nothing to lose/ everything to gain psychology at work there that coaches/players can tap into in other circumstances.

  2. Murray was below par in that match. He burst his guts to beat Rafa in an exho and doesn’t turn up when it matters.

  3. In preparation for his first meeting with the Croat, Federer’s coach Severin Luthi will do some reconnaissance work around the grounds in Dubai.

    “Severin would maybe go ask other players if there is anybody around to find out what they have to say about Coric who might have played him,” the Swiss explained. “Then you just check online or you try to get some matches, like the [Rafael] Nadal match, to break it down a bit more and see how he played there.

  4. Fed losing four games or less. Just like I predicted. I’m brilliant!


    Congratulations to Me!

    .@rogerfederer beats #Coric 62 61, sets his sights on a 7th #DDFTennis crown. Read: #atp

    Aside: Don’t worry @nadline10, the world will still be worth living in when Rafa retires (even if you don’t know what year it is). You can continue to watch Roger and continue counting his chest hairs!


  5. GSM Nole.

    Federer has won the last three ATP meetings on a fast hardcourt against Djokovic.

    Look for that trend to continue in the final with the mental edge being the difference

    Federer in two tight sets is the pick.

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