(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Lucas Pouille spends much of his time in the off season in Dubai. And, occasionally, he trains with a Swiss genius named Roger Federer in the city of iconic landmarks.
Federer didn't enter the Dubai tournament this year, but an inspired Pouille enthralled the Dubai fans on a rain-hit Friday with a superb exhibition of attacking tennis until the ninth game of the second set after winning the first set in emphatic style.
It was the kind of performance that would have made Federer, the finest exponent of attacking tennis, smile.
But Serbian Filip Krajinovic, his opponent in the semifinal, bounced back in remarkable fashion to take the match to the decider.
Pouille held his nerve in the make-or-break tie-break as he played some amazing tennis on the big points to enter the third final of the year 2018 with that 6-3 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/5) win.
It is the first final appearance at this championships for the Dubai resident.
The world number 15 then revealed why he decided to live in Dubai.
"Well, the first time I came to Dubai I was with Roger. He invited me in 2014 or '15, I don't remember, before the tournament. We practiced one week. One morning we were walking with my coach. I said, I feel good here," Pouille told reporters at the post-match press conference on Friday.
"The atmosphere is good here. Practice is very nice. The weather is amazing compared to Paris. I was looking for somewhere to practice during winter especially," he added.
"So I said, Okay, why not? You could come in December, November to practice. That could be your base. Then that's how I decided.
"Of course, but the first choice was because I came with Roger and it was just a great experience. I really loved the way the city lives," said Pouille who grew up idolizing Federer.
But Pouille, who lost to Andy Murray in the Dubai semifinals last year, said he doesn't live in his apartment during the tournament here.
"I stay here at the hotel. Of course, I would love to stay in my apartment. But it's much easier for me if I stay at the hotel. My apartment is 30 minutes from the stadium. And if there's a traffic jam, it can be one hour. So it's better to be in the hotel," the second seeded Frenchman said.
Now success in Saturday's final in Dubai, his second home, will take him to the top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first time in his career.
"I know, of course. I heard it. I'm not watching the rankings, but so many people told me already. Of course, I know," he smiled.
"Well, that's exciting. Playing to reach the top 10 for the first time, of course, it's something great. But obviously if I play like this every week of the year, I mean, if I'm focused like this and I'm mentally as strong as I am now, I'm sure one week or another I will be in the top 10," he added.
"Tomorrow is not going to be the most important match of my life, but definitely it will be an important match. I'm very excited."
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