Roger Federer will have to overcome his Australian Open conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final in his bid to win a 100th ATP title.
After Tsitsipas outlasted Gael Monfils in a gruelling three-hour semi-final, Federer set up the showdown with a swift dismissal of Borna Coric.
Federer needed just 68 minutes to beat the Croatian 6-2 6-2, breaking four times without dropping serve.
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If Federer beats Tsitsipas in the final, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will become just the second men’s player to reach 100 singles titles after American Jimmy Connors, who has won 109.
Martina Navratilova (167), Chris Evert (157) and Steffi Graf (107) have all achieved the feat in the women’s.
Federer will be more than aware of the challenge facing him in the Dubai final, having lost in four sets to Tsitsipas in the last 16 at the Australian Open two months ago.
The Greek 20-year-old, who reached the semis in Melbourne before losing in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, is regarded as a potential future number one.
Tsitsipas was last year’s NextGen Finals champion, and has also won two ATP 250 titles - in Marseille last week and Stockholm in October.
On Friday, he survived a marathon encounter against Monfils, winning 4-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4) to reach the final in Dubai and make the top 10 for the first time.
Tsitsipas had raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set but dropped serve twice to hand his French opponent the advantage.
Monfils broke early in the second set, but after Tsitsipas recovered, he won the tie-break 7-5, which featured just three holds of serve.
The decider saw both players save break points, Tsitsipas saving four alone in the eighth game, and it took just the one drop of serve in the tie-break for the Greek to seal it 7-4 once more.
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