DUBAI (AFP) — Andy Roddick, playing with a new lease of life, caused his second successive upset to reached the final of the Dubai Open on Friday when he added Novak Djokovic's scalp to his victory over Rafael Nadal.
The former world number one from the United States scored a tense and tenaciously chiselled out 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory over Djokovic, the third-seeded Australian Open champion from Serbia.
It followed another straight sets win on Thursday over Nadal, the second-seeded French Open champion from Spain.
The match hinged on one point in the tie-breaker and one break of serve in the second set, and might have taken a different course but for a mix-up two points from the end of the first set.
The umpire called a Roddick ace as a let, and repeated the call, but both players changed sides anyway, ready for the next point.
This decided the umpire to allow himself to be over-ruled, and he called the score as 6-4 and set point to Roddick, instead of 5-4, first serve.
Most people assumed both players had disagreed with the call, and that Djokovic was sportingly acknowledging it.
Afterwards however each of them claimed they had not heard the let call.
"The umpire is supposed to speak loud, not as though he were speaking to a mouse," said Djokovic.
"There are ten thousand people in there and I didn't hear it. It was an important point."
From 6-4 up, Roddick lost the next rally but won the second set point at 6-5 as Djokovic, from a useful position, hit a forehand drive wide.
"I don't think anyone heard it," Roddick said of the umpire's let call.
"This is new information for me. I don't know what to tell you."
The second set was also very tight, with Roddick, who returned serve soundly and played some well constructed rallies, making the crucial break in the penultimate game.
"I didn't use my opportunities when they were given to me. But it could have gone the other way if I had won the first set," said Djokovic.
"I was nervous because we were playing on a very fast court and he is going to rely on his service. I had to get back his service as much as I could, which is why I was nervous."
But the best Djokovic could manage against the fastest serve in the world was two break points in the first set; Roddick has yet to drop serve during this tournament.
Inevitably it was suggested to him that his surge in form might have been related to last week's split with Jimmy Connors, the legendary former player who had been his coach for the last year and a half.
"I don't know if this week is about Jimmy. I talked to him last night and he had a lot of things to say," claimed Roddick.
"But for a long time it has been John (Roddick, his brother), Doug (Spreen) and me on the road. It was nice hearing his voice but the grit of it was John, Doug and me."
In the final, Roddick will face Feliciano Lopez, the enigmatic Spaniard who had previously won only one match in five months, but who now completed his third victory over a top ten player in a week.
Lopez made a last ditch come-back from 3-5 down to snatch an audacious 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Nikolay Davydenko, the world number five from Russia.
Nor was it a coincidence that Lopez should return to such spectacular form here - it is the same place where the first of his four finals happened, four years ago.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »