Federer advanced to the quarter-finals (Picture: AP)Roger Federer dropped a set for the second match in a row but ultimately defeated Fernando Verdasco to keep his hopes of a 100th career title alive in Dubai.
The Swiss has never lost to the left-handed Spaniard and did maintain that 100% record, but he allowed the world No. 32 to win a set against him for just the second time in their seven meetings.
Federer cut an anxious and frustrated figure as Verdasco clawed his way back into the match but as was the case against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round, the 37-year-old bounced back to secure a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win and book his spot in the quarter-finals.
The world No. 7 has enjoyed plenty of success at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in the past, winning seven titles, and he will fancy his chances of winning an eighth.
Verdasco applied pressure to the Swiss (Picture: REUTERS)
Federer was forced to work hard (Picture: REUTERS)A flutter of seeds have already fallen, with Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic and Daniil Medvedev tumbling out before Federer took to court for his second-round match.
By defeating Verdasco he has moved level with world No. 6 Nishikori – who earlier suffered a surprise three-set defeat to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz – in terms of ranking points and he can climb as high as No. 4 in the ATP leaderboard with the title.
Up next is Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-2.
The winner of that encounter will take on Nikoloz Basilashvili or the winner of Borna Coric and Tomas Berdych.
In the other quarter-finals, Hurkacz will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas – who earlier announced plans to compete at Queen’s in 2019 – while Ricardas Berankis will meet the in-form Gael Monfils.