Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic strolled to easy victories in the Dubai Championships second round on Wednesday, keeping the world’s top two players on course for a showdown in tomorrow’s final.
Other dangers await after Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro also claimed straight-set wins, but few in Wednesday’s 5,000 capacity crowd would bet against another meeting between the big two, winners of 23 Grand Slam titles between them.
Federer dismissed Spain’s Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4, while Djokovic overcame a late stumble to beat another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-1, 7-6.
Djokovic was seeking a 15th straight win, his unbeaten streak dating back to October last year, while Agut has one tour final appearance to his name and was overawed by the Serb’s power and movement.
The first set was over in 23 minutes and Djokovic broke for a fourth game in five to go 2-0 up in the second.
The match looked all over, but Agut fought back, breaking Djokovic and saving four match points to take the set to a tiebreak, only for the Spaniard to bow out with a double fault.
The Serb, 25, was to face Italian Andreas Seppi in yesterday’s quarter-finals, while Federer was to play Russian Nikolay Davydenko.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was adamant he would not take Davydenko lightly, despite boasting an 18-2 winning record against the veteran.
“I’ll never disrespect a guy like Nikolay,” the Swiss said. “He’s done too much in the game.”
After the first five games went with serve, Granollers stumbled, a double fault gifting Federer three break points.
The 31-year-old needed only one, passing Granollers at the net with an arrowed forehand down the line for a 4-2 lead.
Federer, seeking a first title of the year and a sixth Dubai crown, was relentless, regularly opting for serve-and-volley tactics, and wrapped up the set with a love game.
Federer broke again for a decisive 3-2 lead in the second set courtesy of a deep forehand that the Spaniard thought had landed long, but his appeal fell flat.
Earlier, world No. 7 Del Potro pounded Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 6-4.
Third seed Berdych, 27, also went through to the last eight, beating Germany’s Tobias Kamke 7-5, 6-1.
Meanwhile, rain prevented completion of any singles matches on Wednesday at the US$455,775 ATP Delray Beach International tennis championships.
In the men’s doubles, Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun and Jaroslav Levinsky of the Czech Republic defeated James Cerretani of the US and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, 6-4, 7-5 before rain stopped play.