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Third Straight Title in Dubai

22.02.2005 | Tennis

Roger captured his third straight Dubai title as he posted a three-set win over eighth-seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic in today’s final. He defeated Ljubicic 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 at Dubai Tennis Stadium to record his third ATP singles title of 2005 and 25th of his illustrious career.


Roger broke his opponent's usually steady serve three straight times and won seven consecutive games in the first and second sets to appear to be on his way to a routine win. However, Ljubicic fought back in the second set as he erased an early break and staved off a match point in the tiebreaker before eventually closing out the set with a powerful service return.


After each man broke early in the third, Roger broke Ljubicic's serve with a forehand winner to claim a 5-3 lead. The top seed then easily held serve in the following game to close out the match.


Ljubicic, who has lost six of the nine career meetings with Roger, was already appearing in his fourth singles final of the year, but has come up short on every occasion. Unfortunately for Ljubicic, he has run up against the mighty Roger in three of those title matches, while his other setback came against big-serving Swede Joachim Johansson at Marseille.



Although Roger was forced to play two matches today it did not really seem to slow him down. He took out fourth-seeded American Andre Agassi in straight sets in a what appeared on paper to be a marquee semifinal match, but was not too competitive on the court. Roger certainly played some incredible points, the final result being 6:3, 6:1.


Roger is now on the best way to his third straight championship in Dubai. He beat Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in last year's finale here. This year he will face Ivan Ljubicic whom he already beat in the finals of Doha and Rotterdam this season.


The final will take place at 9 p.m. local time.



One day later than scheduled Roger defeated Michail Youzhny 6:3, 7:5. It was his first victory without losing the first set after having done so the last three matches. A break in the starting set gave Roger a 3:1 lead, the second set began with a break by Roger to make it 1:0 – but Juschni replied with a re-break straight away - Roger only being able to break again at 5:5.

“It was not that easy. The conditions here during the day are very different to what they are like at night. But I am happy to have won again in two sets.”


Four days after their little match on the helicopter-pad of the luxury hotel “Burj al Arab” at over 200m above ground Roger and Andre Agassi will now meet down on the “normal” court. The semi-final between the two stars in Dubai will not begin before 6 p.m. Swiss time.



Roger was scheduled to meet seventh-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, while the fourth-seeded Agassi was slated to face sixth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko on Day 5, but the weather failed to cooperate and those matches are now part of Saturday's schedule.



Roger saved two match points and beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 4:6, 6:3 and 7:6 (6) on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Dubai Open. It was his third straight match win in a third-set tiebreaker.


Roger will now face seventh-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, a 7:5, 6:4 winner over Rainer Schuettler, around 9 p.m. local time.

"A friend offered me $10 for every match I win 7:6 in the third set," said Roger, who was extended to third-set tiebreaks by Ivo Minar in the first round and Ljubicic in the final at Rotterdam last weekend. "It was too little, so I didn't accept it. But then he raised it to $20 and I couldn't refuse."



Roger struggled past Czech qualifier Ivo Minar 6:7, 6:3 and 7:6 in the first round of the Dubai Open. It took him almost two hours to edge through against Minar who held a point for a 4-1 lead in the final set.


Minar did not give Roger a chance to settle, serving and returning well and hustling confidently at the net. "It was close and he played well to keep me under pressure, and I definitely didn't have my best day”, said Roger, who next faces Juan Carlos Ferrero tomorrow after 7 p.m. local time.

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