Roger Federer moved to within one win of his 100th ATP Tour title after producing his best performance of the week against Borna Coric to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final on Friday.
After being pushed close in his previous matches in Dubai, seven-time champion Federer needed just one hour and seven minutes to defeat sixth seed Coric 6-2, 6-2 and claim a measure of revenge against a player he had lost to in their two most recent encounters.
Another revenge mission awaits Federer in the final when the second seed takes on Greek No 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eliminated the Swiss superstar from the Australian Open in January after four tight sets in which Federer failed to convert any of 12 break points.
Does Federer himself view his match with Tsitsipas as an opportunity to gain revenge?
“Maybe a little bit,” he said. “We already played a couple times this year, in the Hopman Cup and then the Australian Open. Obviously I was horribly disappointed and upset that I missed as many breakpoints as I did, had all the opportunities I had.
“That match kind of hurt in some ways. But, you know, it's part of the game. He did very well to get out of those tricky situations.
“Again, he did the same again tonight against [Gael] Monfils. He gets it done that way. It's not the classic one-dimensional way. He has many ways to do it. That makes him tough to play, tough to beat. He showed me that at the Australian Open, how hard he is.
“I hope I'm going to play well. I'm more focused just on my own game, to be quite honest, than him. Probably reaching a hundred titles. We're still far from it, it seems. I'm just going to try to focus and play good tennis.”
If Federer replicates the form he displayed against Coric, then he may well have his revenge on Tsitsipas.
The 20-time grand slam champion seized control of the first set with back-to-back breaks to storm into a 5-1 lead. After missing two set point chances with Coric serving in the next game, Federer made no mistake on his own serve the following game.
Coric’s evening went from bad to worse at the start of the second set as Federer - cheered on by a packed Centre Court crowd - immediately broke before claiming a 2-0 lead. The 22-year-old Croatian, who appeared to be carrying a thigh injury, fought hard to stay in touching distance, before Federer landed the knockout blow with a second break for a 5-2 lead. Federer then sealed his emphatic victory by serving out to love.
“It's tough conditions this week. A lot of swirly winds. It's hard to really feel great out there. But I think it's the same for everybody,” Federer, 37, said.
“I was really happy with my play today, in terms of feeling, was definitely by far the best one. So that was good. I'm sure Borna was feeling it a little bit from his last few matches.
“Again, I've also been tired the past and lost some. You just take it on your chin, move on, you try your best. He did that today.
“From my side, I think it was important to mix it up, be solid, not give him too many chances, keep showing him it's going to be really difficult for him to win. At the end I actually played really good. I'm very pleased.”