Roger Federer at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Roger Federer at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)|Associated Press

Tennis: Abrams has the semis Saturday morning in Dubai

Federer vs. Coric, Monfils vs. Tsitsipas. Matches start at 8 am Eastern.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Dubai Duty Free Championships
Dubai, U.A.E.
Semifinal picks

Roger Federer over Borna Coric
Roger Federer finally won a match in straight sets here in Dubai as he subdued Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6, 6-4. He now plays 13th ranked Borna Coric, a man who he does not hold a winning record against. Coric, a 22-year-old Croatian living in Dubai is another Next Gen rising star. He’s reached the semis with consecutive wins over Jiri Vesely, Thomas Berdych, and Nikoloz Basilashvili in three straight third set tiebreakers! If you dismiss Federer’s win over Coric in 2015 when Federer was in his prime and Coric was an up and coming 18-year-old, Coric actually holds a 2-1 lifetime edge over Fed, with Coric winning the last two times they played, the last match going his way in straight sets. But how can you predict Federer to lose? We’re talking about one of the greatest players ever, who, at 37, although not quite in his prime, certainly hasn’t lost his magic. Each player has extra incentive to win this match. For Coric, a win would move him into the Top Ten, and would announce his arrival onto the top rung of the world stage of tennis. He would also join just two other active players -- Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, with a winning lifetime record against the Fed. For Federer, a win here would push his ranking back into the Top Five, as he will gain ranking points while not losing any since he didn’t play this week last year. Additionally, it will put him in position to get revenge on Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek sensation who knocked him out of this year’s Australian Open. And finally, a win will put Federer only one match away from winning his 100th professional tournament, an achievement only accomplished by one man in tennis history, Jimmy Connors. This will be a dogfight, but ya gotta believe that Federer wants this one bad.

Gael Monfils over Stefanos Tsitsipas
Remember when professional tennis was actually exciting and the fans were a part of the circus? Well this match will be a throwback to that era. Stefanos Tsitsipas plays an all-court game, which he uses to work his way to net to finish off points when possible. He’s young, he’s flashy, he’s really exciting, and he executes without fail. It’s hard not to really like him. Gael Monfis, long considered one of the best athletes on Tour, however, is having a wonderful resurgence this year and is playing at his athletic best. He’s been dashing around the court, sliding on the hard courts, finishing points while doing splits, and jumping like an NBA star as he spikes overheads for winners. The 32-year-old, 6’4” Frenchman is playing like he’s 25 again, and I can attribute that to him being extra happy. It appears that the romance between WTA pro Elina Svitolina and Monfils is putting a smile on his face, a skip in his step, and some extra spunk and confidence in his tennis game. He’s doing everything that makes him dangerous: serving with vigor, retrieving like a puppy, stroking like a machine, and, of course, winning. Score one more for love here, and give this one to the resurgent Frenchman.

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