Roger Federer denoted his return of tennis with an intently battled 7-6 3-6 7-5 victory over Dan Evans at the Qatar Open.
Playing in his first game for over 13 months having gone through two knee surgeries a year ago, 39-year-old Federer won a tense first-set tiebreak 10-8 preceding being broken by world No. 28 Evans close to the beginning of the second set.
Evans closed out the second set – the first time when he has taken a set off Federer in four gatherings – yet the Swiss star had the option to beat the decider with his first break of the match at 6-5.
“Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I thought I played actually a really, really good match so I’m incredibly happy about my performance,” Federer said in his on-court interview after the game.
The 20-time grand slam champion next faces Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quaraterfinals at the Qatar Open, a tournament he has won on three past events.
At first saying that he had would have liked to return during the current year’s Australian Open, Federer had to withdraw from the competition toward the end of last year.
He has dropped to No. 6 on the planet rankings during his physical issue nonappearance, yet said he feels satisfied to have gotten through the protracted time of recovery that followed a year ago’s medical procedure.
“It’s been a long and tough road for me,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, though, it’s been a huge challenge of mine in my tennis career. To come back at my age is not something that’s very simple.
“I’ve had a wonderful team around myself that always supported me throughout and that made it much easier. It was worth it, because I played a great match today.”
Federer is no more unusual to injury comebacks having recovered from a past knee surgery in 2016 to win two grand slam titles.
The game against Evans, who has been a hitting accomplice of Federer’s in the course of recent weeks, was a tight issue that might have swung in any case.
The British No. 1 had break focuses at 3-3 in the third set that were saved by Federer, who thusly ended up with a match point at 5-4 that was saved by Evans.
Yet, Federer in the end finished off the challenge two games later with a thumping, down-the-line backhand that set up a place in the quarterfinals.
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