Dubai, 25 February 2011 | AP

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, winners of six of the previous eight ATP Dubai Championships, remained on course to meet in the final with straight-sets quarterfinal wins on Thursday.

Federer was broken for the first time in three matches but handled his debut meeting with Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-3 6-4, while two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Florian Mayer of Germany 7-5 6-4.

Federer will play Richard Gasquet, who overcame Gilles Simon 5-7 6-2 6-4 in all-French match. Djokovic will play Tomas Berdych in a rematch of their Australian Open quarterfinal. Djokovic won that, then beat Federer in the semis and Andy Murray in the final.

“Yeah, tough one. [Berdych is] playing really well in the last year and a half,” Djokovic said. “He’s a quite consistent player right now. He has a very powerful serve, very fast baseline strokes, very flat, so I guess I need to be patient and wait for my chances.”

Stakhovsky saved three match points but Federer finally won when Stakhovsky hit a return wide.

“I thought it was a tough match, tougher than the last couple,” Federer said.

Djokovic trailed Mayer 5-3 in the first set but the unseeded German’s serve abandoned him and Djokovic wasn’t troubled again.

“The ball was going faster today, and he took it to me from the start,” Djokovic said. “Already first game he was on the net, twice, three times. I was not moving my legs well. I was making lots of unforced errors.”

Djokovic finished better than he started, however, winning the last four games in the first set and the last five in the second.

Next up was Berdych, who beat Phillip Petzschner of Germany 7-5 6-4 in just under two hours.

At the WTA Qatar Open in Doha, Vera Zvonareva came from 5-3 down in the deciding set to beat Daniela Hantuchova 7-5 6-7(5) 7-5 in a thrilling quarterfinal.

Zvonareva lined up a semifinal against familiar foe Jelena Jankovic, who defeated Czech lucky loser Klara Zakopalova 6-2 6-4.

Zvonareva leads Jankovic 7-6 in overall matchups, and has won the last four.

Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won 12 straight games to beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-2 6-0 and set up a semi-final against Marion Bartoli of France.