Roger Federer had a tough time at the court eventually defeating Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in the second round to enter quarterfinals of the Dubai Open. The last set could have gone either way when Federer was on the verge of going down 0-3 but fought back to win 5 straight games.
"It was a difficult match and a bit typical of a second round at Dubai, and I found it difficult to get rhythm," Federer said after the match. "I started to understand what I was doing wrong, which made me maybe play a little bit tentatively from the baseline, what made me not make enough shots and why I wasn't playing as aggressively as I wanted to. I couldn't find the right balance between offence and defence.
"Radek is talented and agile, and it didn't look good for a while in the third set. It was a bit frustrating. I didn't take advantage after the first set when you hope to keep it going. At the start of the second he stuck in a quick break and I was under pressure for the rest of that set.
"It was almost a bit too late for everything, but I kind of hung around and I took the positives out of the match. Radek did a good job of putting the pressure on me and mixing it up. From that standpoint, it was a really difficult match. I'm very pleased to come through."
Federer will meet Lukas Rosol in the quarters who beat eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov earlier in the day. The Swiss champ could meet Novak Djokovic in the semis.
Defending champion Djokovic marked a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut. "I have done really well today from the first to the last point," Djokovic said. "There were no major ups and downs, especially with the serve that helped me to win comfortably my service games, a lot of free points."
Last year's finalist, Tomas Berdych also had an easy day in Dubai beating Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-2 despite issues with his first serve. He will meet Frenchman Tsonga in the quarters.
"I was working a little more on my return stats than on my service stats," Berdych said. "The main focus really for the next days is to get my percentage of the first serve back and really find a nice and sweet rhythm for my serve."
India's Somdev Devvarman couldn't capitalise on his good run this season. The 79-ranked player lost to the 13-ranked Malek Jaziri.
"He played the important points better than I did, that's why he won," admitted the Indian star. "I started off slow, but fought back in the second set. I wasn't feeling so good on court today, still I felt like I gave myself chances. I just didn't execute when I needed to."
In men's doubles, Mahesh Bhupati and Uzbek Denis Istomin overcame Oliver Marach and Florin Mergea 4-6, 6-3, 16-14. The Indo-Uzbek pair will face the Indo-Pak duo of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi in quarterfinals.