Former men’s world number one Roger Federer had to dig deep to progress to the quarter-finals of the Dubai Open on Wednesday eventually beating fellow veteran Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in their second round clash. The 32-year-old grand slam record-holder – who has won the Dubai title a record five times – struggled for long periods against a 35-year-old who is barely a full-timer on the ATP Tour these days. Federer was four times within a point of going 0-3 down in the final set, any one of which could have inspired the talented and unpredictable Czech to close out the game. Once Federer had held on in that game, and broken back, he created some momentum of his own, and the ace which took him to 4-2 signalled he had turned the tide. “It was a difficult match and a bit typical of a second round at Dubai, and I found it difficult to get rhythm,” admitted Federer. “Radek is talented and agile, and it didn’t look good for a while in the third set. “It was a bit frustrating. I didn’t take advantage after the first set when you hope to keep it going. Radek is talented and agile, and it didn’t look good for a while in the third set Roger Federer “At the start of the second he stuck in a quick break and I was under pressure for the rest of that set. “I had to figure out how to deal with it. I am glad I made it.” Earlier Stepanek’s compatriot Tomas Berdych cruised into the quarter-finals and looks in the type of form that could see him reach the final for a second successive year. The world number six was the only top ten player not to have won a title last year, though an overwhelming 6-2, 6-1 victory over Sergiy Stakhovsky now hinted how his chances of remedying that are improving.