ATP 500Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer

Federer Comes Through Kohlschreiber Test in Dubai Opener

The Swiss made Round 2 with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 Victory

The bid for title number 100  is still on as Roger Federer kicked off his Duty Free Tennis Championship campaign defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in 1 hour and 35 minutes.

The win sees the Swiss move into a 14-0 lead in the H2H against the German but it wasn’t all plain sailing as Kohlschreiber forced a third set for just the third time on the ATP tour with some stylish play in blustery conditions.

Ultimately though Federer was just a bit too strong, breaking in his first return game of the decider and keeping hold of the advantage to move into Round 2 where he’ll face Fernando Verdasco.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Kohli Dubai 2019

Federer won the toss and elected to receive. The Swiss then reeled off two sweet forehands for 15-30 and a wild forehand from Kohli on break point at 30-40 gave Roger the perfect start.

The break was quickly consolidated for 2-0 but in game four back to back double faults from Roger gave Kohli a break back point. The Swiss erased it then held for 3-1.

From that point onwards both players made little inroads on the return,   hindered by the windy conditions and only real danger came in game ten when Kohli made deuce before Roger served out the set 6-4.

Into set two and the German kicked off with a hold for 1-0 then got his first break of the match after a loose Federer service game. That was soon 3-1 but in game five the German played a terrible drop shot at 30-30 to give Roger a break back point which he converted.

Having been gifted the break back, Roger responded in kind, slipping to 15-40 before a sick return from Kohlschreiber gave him a 4-2 lead.

The break was consolidated for 5-2 and the German soon found himself serving for the set at 5-3. In this game his first serve deserted him, giving Roger three chances to break and smashing one of his racquets in the process.

However, he was able to regain his composure and save all three, one of them with a second serve ace, his only ace of the match. The other two were timid plays from the Swiss and Kohlschreiber levelled at a set apiece.

The decider was something of a coin flip but given that Kohlschreiber had never won the first set against Roger in thirteen meetings, never mind beaten him, the Swiss was the favourite.

That tag proved correct as Roger was quickly up 2-0 and Kohlschreiber had no answers on the return as he slipped to 1-4.

In game six, Roger was able to make double sure of the outcome, setting up a break point with a big forehand and although the German saved it, he couldn’ fend off the second, succumbing after a first serve was wrongfully called out.

With an unassailable 5-1 lead in the bag, Roger served it out to love to take it 6-1 to book his spot in the second round. Job done πŸ™‚

Match Stats

  Philipp Kohlschreiber Roger Federer
Aces 1 7
Double Faults 4 3
1st Serve 56% (50/89) 72% (48/67)
1st Serve Points Won 62% (31/50) 79% (38/48)
2nd Serve Points Won 56% (22/39) 58% (11/19)
Break Points Saved 50% (4/8) 33% (1/3)
Service Games Played 13 13
1st Return Points Won 21% (10/48) 38% (19/50)
2nd Return Points Won 42% (8/19) 44% (17/39)
Break Points Won 67% (2/3) 50% (4/8)
Return Games Played 13 13
Winners 16 26
Unforced Errors 29 29
Net Points Won 62% (8/13) 76% (13/17)
Total Service Points Won 60% (53/89) 73% (49/67)
Total Return Points Won 27% (18/67) 40% (36/89)
Total Points Won 46% (71/156) 54% (85/156)


Thoughts on the Match

Federer Dubai 1st R 2019

A good enough start from Roger here who played reasonably well for the most part. He was lucky to get the early break in set one as from there onwards he made little impression on the return but he was the more aggressive guy in the opening set and that proved key.

The second set was a bit ropey in parts but in windy, nighttime conditions you can’t really complain that he made a fair few unforced errors. He hasn’t played a night match in Dubai since 2017 and I doubt he’s had much practice in these sorts of conditions since arriving as practice is always during the day.

So while it wasn’t exactly a flawless performance there were enough good things happening out there and he walked away with the win which was important after the disappointment of Australia. 

As for Kohli, I thought he played some good stuff too, when he was aggressive he had the beating of Federer but he didn’t make enough first serves when it mattered and that’s why he’s got zero wins in the H2H.

Predictions vs Verdasco

Fed Verdasco

Next up is Fernando Verdasco who came from behind to defeat Qualifier Thomas Fabbiano in three sets. Roger last played the Spaniard in Dubai back in 2015 en route to the title, winning in straight sets and that’s what I expect the score to be this year too.

Verdasco has only ever taken one set off the Swiss, back in his best ever year on tour at the 2009 World Tour Finals where he was a complete beast after training with Gil Reyes in the offseason.

Fiasco has the game to beat anyone on his day, with easily one of the best forehands on tour but he rarely strings it together for an entire match, double faulting at the worst possible moments and just generally going AWOL in some of the bigger moments. If Roger’s rusty, then maybe he has enough to cause the upset but unlikely.

What are your thoughts on the match against Kohlscribbler? Predictions vs. Verdasco? Let me know in the comments.


Editor of Perfect Tennis and a big fan of Roger Federer, I've spent countless hours watching and analysing his matches. Alongside playing the sport, I also enjoy writing about the tour, rackets, strings, and the technicalities of the game. Whether it's breaking down the latest tournament results or discussing the latest gear innovations, I'm always eager to share my insights with fellow tennis enthusiasts.

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  1. The stats are better than I thought. His return of serve didn’t seem too good at all. A lot of chances on second serves not taken. Like you said, windy night conditions are a different kettle of fish. The draw has opened up so you better not screw this up Roger!

  2. Watching the highlights above, I thought that R & Ph. are two impressively sprightly playing veterans! For some time I’ve been coming back to the slogan “Top 40 at 40″…I’m sure that some players of the current generation of 30-plus-year-old players will achieve that milestone and I hope that Roger is one of them πŸ™‚ With a little bit of luck, Ivo K. could, so to speak, lead the charge. Off-topic link: A nice profile of Ivo just ahead of his anniversary

  3. Good win.Flashes of brilliance throughout the match.Second set was a blemish, but a good win against a good player. Hope Verdasco is his usual self on Wednesday.

  4. Feds matches against Koli are always tight affairs.Fed is the better player.
    As for Verdasco,this one worries me,a bit of a loose cannon.Hopefully the pesky wind will drop,or that might favour
    Vedasco,who has quite a poky serve.

  5. The verdict has been given by the Oscars Academy…
    When I read Jonathan’s summary
    of the windy match against Kohli,
    I understand it might not be
    an ecstatic (BOHEMIAN) RHAPSODY…

    Nevertheless, when I watch the best pictures
    of theΒ  BLACK – no,Β  blue – PANTHER
    that is MISTER ROGERS
    in the third set playing betterer
    I am a LADY, turning GAGA
    as in front of masterpieces in ROMA.

    For the next game, he wants to win !
    His next opponent isΒ  not so GREEN
    BOOK your seats, book your seats !
    On Wednesday, he’d rather go to the NET
    than to the FLICKS.
    Trust him : our STAR IS not BORN today.

    With me, please cheer on the VICE-roy of tennis…
    If Dubai is his kingdom, Fed should remain THE (fans) FAVOURITE !

  6. Oops, highlights vanished already πŸ™

    On the plus side, the push notification came through only about 5 minutes after I’d posted today πŸ™‚

  7. Thought he played very well considering that was his first match (the stats’ telling)! Pyjama outfit again though…
    I had to watch while preparing a dinner for some guests. So glad it wasn’t a nail-biting match and I didn’t cut my fingers.

  8. Actually thought he played a solid match and stats hold that up altho ufes high with the conditions. I expected a walk about 2nd set. Too often these days but hasn’t practised at night so had to get used to conditions and Kohli did up his level.
    Inclined to believe him re clay. I think he has missed it, is very aware of his physical state so must feel stronger ( he looks as tho he has added muscle) and finally he knows he cld do with shoring up a few points.
    Winning here cld see him back in top 4 so added incentive

      1. Reply button didn’t work for me last time, but see now all fixed! Hope for
        a less windy tennis match today so C’mon Rog x

  9. Gael MySon has been a pleasant surprise this year. At least for a while he seems to have wisen up… He was particularly solid against Wawrooska. He may very well pull out a few more rabbits this season.

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