DUBAI // Mikhail Youzhny did not give himself much hope of success when he reached his first Dubai Championship final three years ago. On the other side of the net that night was an unstoppable Roger Federer on the way to a fourth title at an Aviation Club venue the Swiss regards as his second home. "When you are not playing Roger you have a bit more chance of winning," said a delighted Youzhny after securing a second title chance by overcoming the unseeded Austrian, Jurgen Melzer, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in yesterday's semi-final.
Speaking before Novak Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis had contested the right to face him in the battle for a champion's cheque of US$383,000 (Dh1.4million), the Russian player added yesterday: "It will still be tough for me but I hope it will be just as tough for the other guy." Tonight's final will be Youzhny's second in as many weeks. Win or lose, he is hoping to finish the match, having retired with a hamstring injury when a set and a break down to Sweden's Robin Soderling in the Rotterdam Open last Sunday. It was the second time he had defaulted this year, having hurt his right wrist on the way to a second round win over Jan Hajek at the Australian Open.
"The leg feels good now," said Youzhny, who reported no lingering effects from the sore wrist. "I have had some hard matches recently but I am ready for another." He certainly got a tough examination from Melzer, who might have deprived him of a place in the final had the Austrian converted a set point in the 10th game of a match spanning more than two hours. Youzhny averted that threat by forcing Melzer to net a vital forehand; he broke Melzer for the only time in the match in the next game and then waited for the second set tie-break to clinch his hard-earned victory.