Dubai, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning champion and four-time overall titlist Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer will square off in a marquee semifinal Friday at the $1.928 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
The top-seeded former world No. 1 star Djokovic was scheduled to face sixth- seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny on Thursday, but the two-time Dubai runner-up pulled out due to an illness. Youzhny lost to Djokovic in the 2010 Dubai finale.
Djokovic beat Czech Tomas Berdych in last year's final.
Meanwhile, the fourth-seeded former No. 1 great Federer handled Czech slugger Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-2 on the hardcourts at Dubai Tennis Stadium.
In addition to his record five Dubai titles, the currently eighth-ranked Federer was also a runner-up here in 2006 and 2011.
Djokovic and Federer will meet for a 32nd time, with the Swiss icon holding a slight 16-15 advantage in their lifetime series. They've split a pair of matches in Dubai, with Federer prevailing in a quarterfinal in 2007 and Djokovic coming out on top in the 2011 final. Friday will mark their first meeting of 2014.
Since 2003, Djokovic and Federer have won nine of 11 titles in Dubai.
A third-seeded Berdych reached the semis by handling fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3. Tsonga was fresh off his runner-up finish in Marseille in his native France last week.
The red-hot Berdych has won his last 10 matches, including a title in Rotterdam two weeks ago, and is now 15-2 overall in 2014.
Berdych's opponent on Friday will be seventh-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who leveled Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-3 on Day 4.