Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Roger Federer fights back to advance in Dubai

updated 8:03 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Former world No. 1 Roger Federer is bidding to win the tournament in Dubai for the sixth time in his career.
Former world No. 1 Roger Federer is bidding to win the tournament in Dubai for the sixth time in his career.
  • Roger Federer fights back to beat Radek Stepanek at Dubai Duty Free Championship
  • The 17-time grand slam champion eventually beats the Czech 6-2 6-7(4-7) 6-3
  • Federer on course for a semifinal meeting with Novak Djokovic
  • The Serb defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-3

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- It took him two hours and nine minutes, but Roger Federer eventually saw off the challenge of world No. 48 Radek Stepanek to reach the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Championship.

Seventeen-time grand slam champion Federer found himself 0- 2 down in the third and deciding set against a player he had beaten 12 times in their previous 14 matches.

The Swiss rallied, winning five straight games to take the match 6-2 6-7(4-7) 6-3 and set up a tie against Stepanek's compatriot Lukas Rosol.

"I started to understand what I was doing wrong which made me maybe play a little bit tentatively from the baseline, what made me not make enough shots [and] why I wasn't playing as aggressively as I wanted to," the 32-year-old told the ATP Tour's official website.

Grand slam champ's new venture
Lacoste: From tennis legend to style icon
Gasquet's world famous backhand
French tennis flying high

"I couldn't find the right balance between offense and defense. It was almost a bit too late for everything, but I kind of hung around and I took the positives out of the match."

Federer is a five-time former winner of this event and the world No. 8 says coming through such a tough match will stand him in good stead for the rest of the competition.

"Radek did a good job of putting the pressure on me and mixing it up," added Federer. "From that standpoint, it was a really difficult match. I'm very pleased to come through."

Federer, who looking for his second tournament win of 2014 following his success at January's Brisbane International, is on course for a semifinal meeting with Novak Djokovic.

The Serb is looking to win the Aviation Club title for the fifth time and he is already into the last four after Russia's Mikhail Youzhny withdrew from their last eight tie through illness.

If the top seed records a victory in his semifinal, it will be the 550th win of his career.

Djokovic recruited six-time grand slam champion Boris Becker to his coaching staff in December, a decision he says is already paying dividends.

"Whatever he's trying to work on he discusses with all of us, and, of course, we all have a big respect for Boris," said Djokovic.

"I'm really glad that he's in the team, and I feel like he can contribute in a positive way to my game and to my mental approach on the court."

Blog: The losing speech -- tennis' most bizarre convention?

Read: Venus Williams' title drought comes to an end

Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:08 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
updated 8:42 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
updated 12:16 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
updated 2:36 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.