UAE great sporting moments - No 12: Roger Federer wins 100th title at Dubai Tennis Championships
Swiss superstar became only the second player to enter triple digits in ATP Tour titles when he lifted his eighth trophy at the Aviation Club in 2019
Every day over three weeks, The National looks back at the 21 greatest moments in UAE sports history.
No one player has done more to contribute to the growth and success of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships than Roger Federer.
It was therefore only fitting that the Swiss superstar won his historic 100th ATP Tour title at the Aviation Club - a venue where he has enjoyed many moments of triumph, in front of packed crowds that have marvelled at his brilliance for 16 years.
Federer achieved his first Dubai title in 2003. It was the sixth of his burgeoning career. By the time he arrived in the UAE in February 2019, he was sat tantalisingly on 99, with Dubai responsible for seven of those.
Federer may have been top seed and favourite to bring up his century, but there were many an obstacle standing between the Swiss and his latest piece of tennis history.
He hadn't played for around six weeks, since his surprise defeat in the Australian Open fourth round - and the player to inflict that defeat? Stefanos Tsitsipas, who would be hot on Federer's heels as the second seed.
Federer failed to fully convince in the opening two rounds where he was pushed to three sets, first by Philipp Kohlschreiber and then by Fernando Verdasco.
The Swiss then started to hit his stride. A polished straight sets win over Marton Fucsovics followed in the quarter-finals, before he dismantled Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2 in the semis having lost his previous two matches to the Croat.
History, and a shot at revenge, beckoned in the final where Federer faced Tsitsipas, who looked to be running on empty by the time he reached the title match. The Greek had landed in Dubai immediately after winning the Marseille Open and was then pushed all the way in a three-hour slugfest against Gael Monfils to earn his place in the final.
Not that Federer had any sympathy. The top seed was at his efficient best, taking both break point chances in each set to bring up his century of trophies and his eighth in Dubai.
“I didn't come here expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest,” Federer said. “I hadn't played since Australia. I’m just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the final, on top of it winning the eighth, winning the 100th.
“So many magical things going on. I'm very, very happy right now.”
The 100th title made Federer only the second player to reach triple digits in ATP Tour singles titles. Only Jimmy Connors (109) lies ahead of Federer's current haul of 103.
Injury denied the Swiss the chance to defend his title earlier this year, but Dubai's greatest champion will surely be back. Perhaps next time it will be to break Connors' record.
Updated: July 9, 2020 10:32 AM