DUBAI – Stefanos Tsitsipas could have the chance to stop Roger Federer winning his 100th career title after booking a place in the Dubai Championships final on Friday with a 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/4) win over Gael Monfils.
Fifth-seed Tsitsipas, who stunned Federer at the Australian Open, came back from a set down at the Aviation Club to win a three-set thriller that packed nearly three hours with powerful rallies and daring shots.
The Greek will enter the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in his career thanks to the win, and awaits the winner of Friday’s other semi-final as Federer faces sixth seed Borna Coric in pursuit of his career century.
“I don’t know how I won,” said Tsitsipas. “I was playing relaxed today, enjoying every moment.
“I was serving well and timed my returns. I had confidence going into the tiebreakers.”
For Monfils, the defeat brings to an end an eight-match winning streak and an entertaining run in Dubai that comes a fortnight after winning in Rotterdam.
Monfils won five games in a row to take the opening set after going down a break, but was pegged back in a tense second that Tsitsipas won on a tie-break.
The Frenchman could easily have won the match had he not let four break points slip when 4-3 up in the final set, while Tsitsipas had to recover from three double faults at 5-6 down to force the tie-break, from which he eventually won the match.
“I had some opportunities, I couldn’t make them great today,” said Monfils.
“I need to be better, that’s it. I need to be better to win those big matches.”AFP