Just February ’05 and already a third final between these two players who will be working together many years later, as coach & pupil. After 38 minutes seemed it’d be a repeat of their previous Arabian final, Federer  had a break point leading 6-1, 2:0 – if he had converted it, the final would have been actually over within sixty minutes. It was strange that the Swiss overwhelmed his two years older opponent, because a week later they had played a very tight match in Rotterdam, and Ljubicic  began the Dubai final in a good style. He had three break points at 1-all, and trailing 1:2 (40/15) he perhaps served an ace, but no hawk-eye system yet, and instead of a potential 3:1 lead, he lost seven straight games. He avoided a double break deficit twice in the 2nd set though; there was *1:3 (0/30) too. In the tie-break he fought off a match point at *5:6 with a service winner (188 mph DTT). Through two sets he was very calm, but in the decider he lost his patience, his problem with a right calf could make an impact on it. He took a medical time-out as he came back from an early break, but at 3:4 he lost his serve again.
Federer’s route to his 25th title:
1 Ivo Minar 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5)
2 Juan C. Ferrero 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) – 2 m.p.
Q Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 7-5
S Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-1
W Ivan Ljubicic 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-3
Serve & volley: Federer 7/16, Ljubicic 1/3
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