from ATP World Tour.com
Roger Federer revealed he got his tactics spot on as he fought back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals on Saturday.
The Swiss turned the match around with his consistently aggressive play, and reaped the rewards as he defeated Djokovic for the first time in 18 months.
"I think I was able to play a bit more aggressively as the match went on," said Federer. "I knew I was in a bit of trouble (after the first set) and not looking good at all, because he has a tendency to really run with it and play more freely on your serve. He plays very dangerous.
"It was just a matter of trying to play consistent but remain aggressive. Sometimes being also overly aggressive to see if it works. If it doesn't, then you can always pull back a little bit. Clearly it was close, but I think I got the right balance, just the right balance. Then I started to serve very well, something I haven't been able to do really this week yet. I knew to have a chance today I needed to serve well. So I'm just very happy I was able to deliver that."
Having beaten No. 4 Andy Murray in the Australian Open quarter-finals, it is the first time in his career that Federer has prevailed against two Top 5 players before March. The Basel native began working with Stefan Edberg as his coach at the start of the season, as well as using a larger racquet head. The changes saw him reach the Brisbane final and the Australian Open semi-finals and have given back to Federer some of the belief in himself he felt he was lacking on the big points in matches.
"The [close moments] sometimes that decide matches, that's where you just need that extra confidence or that extra mental belief that you're going to win instead of lose. I think that's what I've got back right now. That's why I think I have been playing consistently well for some months again.
"This is big. This is a big step in the right direction for me. It gives me a lot of confidence, I hope. Physically I'm doing very well again, still holding up perfectly, and clearly it's been a lot of tennis now again this week. I just hope I can finish it well tomorrow."
The 32-year-old Federer has not been joined in Dubai by Edberg this week and said they did no more than exchange text messages in the lead up to the semi-final. Federer is accompanied this week by Swiss Davis Cup coach, Severin Luthi.
"I would like to focus on the work with Stefan," explained Federer. "In three days I will see him. He will be in Indian Wells, and that's what I'm looking forward to. When I'm with him, I'm really with him. When I'm away from him, I want him to enjoy his life.
"So I'm sure this victory makes him very happy. I hope he likes what he sees. From my standpoint, I'm just very happy things are working out with Stefan and Severin and everybody involved and that my results remain positive, which is important right now at the beginning of the season."
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