Dubai, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Saturday's final in Dubai will pit former world No. 1 icon Roger Federer against third-seeded Czech slugger Tomas Berdych.
Friday's marquee semifinal at the $1.9 million Dubai Tennis Championships saw the fourth-seeded five-time champion Federer upend his second-seeded fellow former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Djokovic was the reigning champ and is a four-time Dubai titlist. He beat Berdych in last year's finale on the hardcourts at Dubai Tennis Stadium.
Federer had a love-30 lead on Djokovic's serve in the sixth game of the second set before a brief rain delay halted the bout. When play resumed, the match turned completely in the Swiss' favor. He went on to break the super Serb and won 10 of the last 13 games for the surprising victory.
The 32-year-old Federer hadn't beaten Djokovic in 18 months prior to Friday.
Djokovic and Federer met for a 32nd time, with the Swiss great now holding a 17-15 advantage in their lifetime series. They'd 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 marked their first meeting of 2014.
Since 2003, Djokovic and Federer have won nine of 11 titles in Dubai.
In addition to his record five Dubai titles, the currently eighth-ranked Federer was also a runner-up here in 2006 and 2011. His last Dubai title came two years ago.
Berdych, meanwhile, reached his second straight Dubai final by getting past seventh-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 7-5 in the first semifinal on Friday.
The red-hot Czech has won his last 11 matches, including a title in Rotterdam two weeks ago, and is now 16-2 overall in 2014.
Federer and Berdych will meet for an 18th time, with the Swiss leading the all-time series, 11-6.
The 17-time Grand Slam king Federer will appear in his 115th career final, seeking title No. 78. His last championship came in Halle, Germany, last summer, and he was a runner-up in Brisbane early last month. Federer's last hardcourt title came in Cincinnati in 2012.
The 28-year-old Berdych is 9-11 in his career finals, including 1-0 this year. He upset Federer in a semifinal in Dubai a year ago, but Federer is 2-0 in their lifetime finals on tour.
Saturday's big winner will claim $465,830.