Federer Makes History In Dubai, Wins 100th Title

Swiss lifts his eighth Dubai crown

Roger Federer made history on Saturday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win his 100th tour-level title. The 37-year-old is just the second man to accomplish the feat, joining Jimmy Connors, who triumphed 109 times.

“It’s been a long, wonderful journey… I have loved every minute,” Federer said on court after his victory. “It’s been tough but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we’ll see how much more I’ve got left in the tank. Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me.”

This was Federer’s first appearance in a final since lifting his 99th tour-level trophy last October in Basel. The Swiss joined the ‘Century Club’ at his first opportunity, needing just 69 minutes to triumph in Dubai for the eighth time, making it four tournaments at which he has earned eight or more titles (also Basel, Halle & Wimbledon).

"I think this one has a deep satisfaction, an immediate one, because I know what it means. I like these type of numbers or records," Federer said. "A lot of people always emphasize all the Slams and all these things. I play on the ATP Tour. This is where I've won so many of them, been around for so long. I don't rest between Slams all the time, like people think I might be. But I'm not. I think this number proves that. I think that's why this was a very exciting week for me."

Tsitsipas stunned Federer less than two months ago in the fourth round of the Australian Open, halting the Swiss’ bid for title No. 100 in four sets in Melbourne. But Federer evened the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series at 1-1 with an aggressive display on Centre Court. Tsitsipas hurt Federer by coming to net 68 times in Australia, it was the Swiss who pushed forward in their second meeting.

Federer's Milestone Titles

 Title  Year  City  Opponent  Score
 No. 1  2001  Milan  Julien Boutter  6-4, 6-7, 6-4
 No. 10  2003  Vienna  Carlos Moya  6-3, 6-3, 6-3
 No. 25  2005  Dubai  Ivan Ljubicic  6-1, 6-7, 6-3
 No. 50  2007  Cincinnati  James Blake  6-1, 6-4
 No. 100  2019  Dubai  Stefanos Tsitsipas  6-4, 6-4

While Tsitsipas carried an eight-match winning streak into the championship match after triumphing at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille last week, Federer came out firing. The Swiss earned two break points in the first game of the match with a rifled inside-in forehand, and converted on his first opportunity when Tsitsipas missed a cross-court forehand wide.

Federer did not look back from there, playing aggressively with his forehand to avoid getting pushed back by the #NextGenATP Greek, frequenting the net to put pressure on the fifth seed. He faced two break points while serving for the first set, but Tsitsipas missed a backhand down the line from well behind the baseline and then Federer swooped into net to swat away a backhand volley on the Greek's second chance.

In the second set, Tsitsipas did a better job of holding his ground on the baseline, beginning to move forward more himself. But Federer, who saved both break points he faced in the match, did not waste his chance, taking a 5-4 lead when Tsitsipas dumped a neutral ball in the net. And Federer held to love to clinch title No. 100, after Tsitsipas struck an inside-out forehand into the net.

"I played the right way. Things happened fast. Best-of-three set tennis on a fast court against somebody like Stefanos, who also likes to take the ball early, I tried to be very aggressive myself and it worked out. I got off on a flyer in the beginning and never looked back," said Federer, who landed 76 per cent of his first serves and won 83 per cent of those points. "In the second set, I think I was overall maybe able to create a few more chances. I just felt good in defence, good in offence, good on the serve. That's a good combination to win."

"He was very aggressive, didn't give me any time today. I was expecting it, for him to be a little more aggressive. He just seemed like he was having control over everything he was doing, taking the ball super early, on the rise, giving me no time to prepare," Tsitsipas said. "It was a very fast-tempo game. It felt like he was controlling everything on his own terms. He was just very, very aggressive."

World No. 7 Federer adds 500 ATP Ranking points to his total, and he will return to the Top 5 on Monday at No. 4. The 37-year-old also leaves Dubai with $565,635 in prize money, sending his career total past $121 million. The second seed was pushed to three sets in his first two matches of the week, but he won his final seven sets of the tournament to complete his run.

"I didn't come here expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest. I hadn't played since Australia. Just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the final [and] on top of it winning the eighth [title in Dubai and] winning the 100th [tour-level trophy]. So many magical things going on," Federer said. "I'm very, very happy right now."

Tsitsipas fell short of earning his third ATP Tour crown and his first at the ATP 500-level, but the Greek will crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, becoming the first player from his country to do so. The 20-year-old gains 300 points and $283,880 in prize money.

"It’s an honour playing against Roger. I’ve said it thousands of times, I’ve been idolising him since the age of six and watching him on TV, I was just like you guys," Tsitsipas said to the crowd. "Now sharing the court, it’s even better.

"You’ve created history in tennis and keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing really well."

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Did You Know?
Federer captured his first ATP Tour title, in Milan, when he was 19 years old. With his Dubai triumph, the Swiss has now lifted a tour-level trophy in 18 of the past 19 years.