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.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
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.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
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 7:59 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
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.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
ADVERTISEMENT