Roger Federer faces Coric test

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Roger Federer faces Coric test

Swiss takes on Croatian teenager, who stunned Murray in the quarters

By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

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Published: Fri 27 Feb 2015, 6:17 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:40 PM

Borna Coric stunned Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinal. — KT photos by Shihab

Dubai — Borna Coric’s seismic success over Andy Murray sent out a statement to the remainder of the field here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship and it’s clear his semifinal opponent Roger Federer got the message.

The Croatian, 18, stunned the third-seeded Scot 6-1, 6-3 in the first quarterfinal here on Thursday to set up a last-four clash against the six-time Dubai champion Federer this (Friday) afternoon.

The 33-year-old Swiss’ quarter-final against Richard Gasquet lasted only 20 minutes as the Frenchman retired with a bad back at the end of the first set, which he lost 1-6. “I’ve nothing to lose,” said Coric, who — ironically enough — only gained entry to the singles main draw as a ‘lucky loser.’

“I feel so special after I lost in the second round of quallies (qualifying), so I’m just going to go out there on the court and enjoy it, learn and see how he (Federer) is playing. I’m going to try to beat him. I’m not going to go in to the match like I’m going to lose otherwise I may as well stay in my room or go home.

“But, my main focus will be to play as best as I can and enjoy it out there on the court.” Federer only saw three games of the Coric-Murray match, but he knows the young Croat raises his game to new levels when an upset is on the cards against a top-ranked opponent like the vanquished Murray.

“He makes very little errors and that’s why he is able to put a lot of the top guys under pressure as well,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner commented.

“A top guy would maybe expect a guy like that to go away eventually. If he doesn’t, that can surprise you. He seems to really play up when it matters against the better players. Today (Thursday), it was a great victory. To beat Murray 6-1, 6-3 is a great score because — historically — Murray has played very well here in Dubai. It is definitely a message I get.”

Meanwhile, Berdych was pushed to three sets for the second afternoon match in succession before he eventually got the better of Stakhovsky. Such extended and gruelling outings may not be considered the best preparation for facing someone of Djokovic’s calibre, but Berdych believes he is now match-hardened for the tough test that lies ahead.

“It’s easy to win in two sets and in under an hour,” he conceded. “But, if you have a match like this, it’s much more appreciated. Whatever it takes, I’m mentally and physically ready for it. Matches like today and yesterday (Wednesday), they’re going to count in the end.”

On the match with Djokovic, who cruised past Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan 6-1, 6-1, Berdych added: “I’ve played him many times and he’s definitely the guy on a roll right now. I just need to try to bring a better game and improve myself. It’s probably not the case that you’re going to beat him every time that you go on the court.

“But, it is really good to test yourself; to play with him; have a good match and try to find things that we can work on in the future. These kinds of matches are very important at the beginning of the year.”

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