Federer rallies to reach Dubai quarters, Djokovic through

Sandra Harwitt - The Philippine Star

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Defending champion Roger Federer stormed back from 4-1 down in the first set to beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday and claim a spot in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships.

Trailing 4-1, Federer delighted the packed stadium by winning 20 consecutive points to take the first set of the one hour match.

"I didn't even know that happened until someone told me afterwards," Federer said of winning five games in a row without losing a point. "I look back, it's quite a lot of points in a row and it might be the only time it's ever happened for me.

"Fernando is a shotmaker and he takes it out of your racket sometimes."

In all, Federer won six of his nine service games at love. He lost two of his other three service games.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic also only needed one hour to move into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Andrey Golubev.

Djokovic never offered Golubev a break point opportunity and only gave up 11 points in eight service games.

"Having one match under my belt before today's encounter helped to feel a bit more comfortable to move around on the court quicker," Djokovic said.

Tomas Berdych became the eighth active player on the ATP Tour to post 500 career wins when he beat Simone Bolelli 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-0.

"It feels great," Berdych said. "I need to make sure I keep my body fresh so I can make another 500. I just am going to try to keep adding to it and play as long as I can."

Third-seeded Andy Murray also moved into the quarterfinals with a swift 6-0, 6-2 win over Joao Sousa that only took 57 minutes.

Berdych was tested throughout the first two sets of the 2 hour, 24 minute match before dominating in the final set.

Berdych faced a set point against him in the first set tiebreaker before Bolelli sailed a backhand return long on a second set point for Berdych.

Bolelli, who had five break points in all in the second set, took advantage of a second set point on Berdych's serve in the 12th game with a forehand crosscourt winner.

"It was a tough day at the office," Berdych said. "The matches where you have to fight a bit are more generous for the experience."

Murray has won all 12 sets in the five matches he's played against Sousa.

"Today, I thought I just picked the right shots and played the right way when he was struggling," Murray said. "I didn't give him any free points.

"He was getting more frustrated because he couldn't get any free points and then was going for more and more shots and obviously making more errors because of it."

Qualifier Marsel Ilhan upset sixth-seeded Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Lucky loser Borna Coric ended up with a win when at 6-4, 3-6, 6-6 and 4-4 in the third set tiebreaker Marcos Bagdhatis retired from the match because of cramp.

Elsewhere, seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut was upset by Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6), and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Denis Istomin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

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