Seven-time former Dubai champion Roger Federer suffered a shock defeat on Wednesday, when he lost to world no.116 Evgeny Donskoy of Russia. Federer looked poised for an easy win after taking the first set at 6-3 and serving for the match at 6-4 in second-set tiebreak but the Russian qualifier saved that match point and saved two more later to pull off the tournament’s biggest upset. However, the Russian’s glory proved to be short-lived as he lost his next quarterfinal match to Frenchman Lucas Pouille. Meanwhile, world no.1 Andy Murray entered the semifinal with a hard-fought victory over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber and will have a face-off with Pouille for a place in the final. The other two semifinalists at Dubai were Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Netherlands’ Robin Haase. Verdsaco came through by defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils while Haase scored a tough victory over Damir Dzumhur, who had earlier stunned defending champion and world no.3 Stan Wawrinka.
Swiss maestro Roger Federer was very much on his way to reaching the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championship, a tournament he had already won on seven occasions. He didn’t imagine that a qualifier from Russia, Evgeny Donskoy will fight against him from the brink. But the doughty Donskoy did precisely that as he denied the big Swiss by fighting back after facing three match points. Federer had taken the first set at 6-3 and though the second slipped to tiebreak, Federer still called the shots. He led Donskoy 6-4 on his first match point but Donskoy made it 6-6 as Federer committed an unforced error. But the 18-time Grand Slam winner held another match point at 7-6. This time Donskoy not only leveled but won the set to force the decider. In the third set, Federer broke Donskoy in the sixth game and held his third match point at 5-3. But two more unforced errors by Federer allowed Donskoy to force the tiebreak. Even in the third set tiebreak, Federer raced away to a 5-2 lead with two of his own serves to follow. But Donskoy refused to yield and reeled off the next five points to win the match 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in just under 2 hours.
Next day, Donskoy couldn’t emulate the same performance and lost the quarterfinal against Lucas Pouille of France. To his credit, however, Donskoy stretched Pouille the full distance before bowing out at 4-6, 7-5, 6-7. Pouille will play against top seed and world no.1 Andy Murray on Friday for a place in the final. Murray himself had to hold his fort against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had taken the first set from the Scot. The German kept Murray on his toes in the second set as well and almost forced the world no.1 out of the championships. The two players engaged themselves in a marathon and record-equaling tiebreak lasting 31 minutes. On seven occasions, Murray was down on match points but stayed on to finish off at 20-18. That took the match to the third set and Murray finally wrapped up the proceedings with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 victory.
The other semifinal at Dubai will be played between Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Netherlands’ Robin Haase. By winning at 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinal, Verdasco scored his first head-to-head win over Frenchman Gael Monfils. In the other quarterfinal, Netherlands’ Robin Haase defeated Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Dzumhur had earlier sent shockwaves by defeating world no.3 and 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 6-3 in the first round.