Andy Murray also reached the last eight with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland, as did Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian downed out-of-form Mardy Fish of the United States 6-2, 7-6 (0).
The top-ranked Djokovic, gunning for his fourth consecutive title in Dubai, wasn’t at his best in beating Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the opening round and nor was he against Stakhovsky.
Stakhovsky was 4-3 up in the first-set tiebreaker but two costly unforced errors let Djokovic off the hook, the Serb taking it when the 74th-ranked Ukrainian hit a forehand long.
Djokovic was 3-1 down in the second set but reeled off five straight games to set up an all-Serb match against Janko Tipsarevic, who beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-1.
“The difference between the top players and maybe the lower-ranked players is actually those moments,” Djokovic said of his comeback. “And managing to keep your composure and cope with the pressure and just focus, have an extra focus, mental strength.
“There is not much difference in the shots. We don’t hit, I don’t know, 10 miles stronger than our opponents. It’s just everybody is practicing and we all took the game to another level. There is a lot of great players on the tour.”
Federer broke the 15th-ranked Lopez in the final game to end a tight opening set. The second set was more routine, breaking the Spaniard to lead 5-3 and closing out the match with a volley winner from the net.
Federer, who was beaten in the Dubai final last year by Djokovic, is going for his fifth title and second in 2012 after having won in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“It was tough getting used to his serve early on. I wasn’t having many looks—he was serving aces left and right,” said Federer, whose own first serve worked well, winning 92 percent of points.
In a reprise of the 2007 final, Federer will next face Youzhny, whom he has never lost to in 11 meetings. He said the Russian has one of the best backhands in the game and a good slice.
“He’s an extremely good player. He was in the top 10, semis of the US Open, and I’ve had my fair share of tough matches with him over the years,” Federer said.
Fish’s loss to Youzhny was another setback to what has already been a disappointing start to 2012.
After replacing Andy Roddick as the top-ranked American last year, Fish has struggled this season. He lost in the second round of the Australian Open and was beaten by 388th-ranked Albano Olivetti in the Marseille quarterfinals last week. He did, however, help the United States rout Switzerland 5-0 in the Davis Cup.
“It’s no disgrace to lose to someone like him, but it’s frustrating to lose,” Fish said. “I had a rough trip, last couple of matches did sting a little bit going into Indian Wells and Miami.”
Murray, who complained of feeling unwell in his opening-round victory against German qualifier Michael Berrer in three sets, looked more like the player that reached the Australian Open semifinals.
He broke the 185th-ranked Chiudinelli early in the first set and moved him around the court with ease. The second set was closer as both players held serve for the first eight games. But Murray broke Chiudinelli to lead 5-4, winning the match with an unreturnable serve.
“Yeah, I definitely played better,” Murray said. “Still wasn’t moving as good as I would have liked, but served well today. Actually I served pretty well yesterday. It was more my game from the baseline that was making a lot of mistakes. So that was getting me in trouble. Less mistakes today and served well, so it was good.”
Murray will play fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-1, 6-2.
In the late match, fourth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. He will play eighth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan6-4, 6-2.
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