World No 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic takes on 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in a mouthwatering showdown in the desert.
Federer may have failed to win a major title since triumphing at Wimbledon in 2012 but he remains a formidable competitor as he goes his search of his 84th ATP Tour-level title and his seventh Dubai crown.
The defending champion ended the remarkable five-match streak of Borna Coric, the teenager suddenly being touted as a future champion, for the loss of three games to reach the 123rd final of his career.
Australian Open champion Djokovic needed more than twice as long to beat Tomas Berdych in three sets, prevailing 6-0 5-7 6-4 and will now be aiming for his fifth victory in Dubai.
Djokovic said: “It’s a win that I’m happy about and hopefully I will be able to start tomorrow (Saturday) as well as I did today, you know – and maintain that rhythm, because that will be necessary in order to win against Roger.”
Federer or Djokovic have won the Dubai title in 10 of the last 12 years and will clash in their 37th career-meeting.
Sky Sports’ tennis expert Mark Petchey feels Federer will be marginal favourite to lift his seventh Dubai crown on Saturday.
“Genuinely, these guys bounce back,” Petchey said. “I think he (Djokovic) will just be a little disappointed that he got so ragged at the end. He looked a little fatigued mentally more than anything else, but I think the fact that he is playing Roger in the final will be enough of a sort of lift.
“There is always so much hype around these two when they play, I think you can expect him to come out and hit the ground running.
“It’s about playing the big points well – it’s about playing the moment. I think Roger might just be the favourite from what we have seen so far this tournament.”
Swiss ace Federer leads the head-to-head 19-17 and although the world No 2 won their last meeting in Shanghai, Djokovic emerged victorious in an epic Wimbledon final last summer.
The Serb holds a 9-1 record this season and walked away with his fifth Melbourne title with a convincing four-set win against Andy Murray in January.
Federer, 33, began the season by registering his 1,000th career match victory when he collected the Brisbane International title.
But he exited the Australian Open after suffering a shock exit to Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the third round.
It was only the second time in his last 43 Grand Slam tournaments that the Swiss star failed to at least reach the fourth round.
Federer heads into the final having yet to lose a set in Dubai and aiming to improve his 83-42 record in finals, while Djokovic will be seeking to continue his dominant start to the year.