|Four-time champion Roger Federer and two-time reigning titlist Novak Djokovic will square off in Saturday's marquee finale at the $2.233 million Dubai Tennis Championships. (REUTERS)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Four-time champion Roger Federer and two-time reigning titlist Novak Djokovic will square off in Saturday's marquee finale at the $2.233 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
The top-seeded Federer handled unseeded former top-10 French star Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5 in Friday's semifinals, while the second-seeded Djokovic was leading Tomas Berdych 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 4-2 when the big Czech decided to retire at Dubai Tennis Stadium. Berdych gave way to a quad injury on Day 5.
Federer easily topped Gasquet in 1 hour, 13 minutes with the help of four service breaks, compared to only one for the talented Frenchman.
The 16-time major champion Federer, who captured this Dubai event from 2003-05 and again in 2007, is now 8-1 lifetime against Gasquet, including wins in their last eight meetings.
The 29-year-old Federer will now perform in his 96th career ATP final, seeking a 68th championship.
The hot Djokovic is playing in just his second official event of 2011 and has yet to lose this year. He captured his second Australian Open crown last month, where he beat Berdych in the quarterfinals en route to the championship in Melbourne.
Berdych lost that match last month in straight sets, but on Friday gained the upper hand early with eight aces in the first set. He was unable to convert a pair of set points in the 12th game against Djokovic's serve, then opened a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak. Djokovic again saved two set points before sending a backhand long to give the Czech the opening stanza.
The quad injury cropped up during the second set and Berdych's serve completely abandoned him, as he connected on just 32 percent of his first serves and was broken twice. He was treated for the injury before the third set.
Djokovic, who said Friday marked his "worst performance of the year," broke serve for a 4-2 lead and Berdych decided he could not go on.
"I was just not able to serve, move to the sides, and just felt pain," said Berdych. "There was no chance to just play with this guy in the condition that I was feeling."
The 23-year-old Djokovic improved to 6-1 all-time against Berdych and on Saturday will try for his 20th career title. He is 19-13 all-time in his ATP finals, including a victory over Russian Mikhail Youzhny in last year's Dubai title tilt.
Federer and Djokovic will meet in a rematch of their Aussie Open semifinal last month, which was won by the Serb in straight sets. The Swiss is 13-7 lifetime against the Serb, including a victory in the Dubai quarterfinals in 2007.
Saturday's big winner will collect $386,000.