Back in action after 405 days, Swiss ace says knee is holding up
BENGALURU: Playing his first match in 405 days, Roger Federer authored a total recall in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open to take out the busy Briton Daniel Evans 7-6, (10-8), 3-6, 7-5.
“Feels good to be back, I would’ve been happy regardless of the result, but it feels good to win. It was a great match,” the 39-year-old said, adding that his knee was repairing. “I was tired, more focused on tired, so I told myself if I am going to go out then I’ll go swinging. Nice to finish with a backdown down-the-line on match point.”
Since falling to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2020 Australian Open, 14 months ago, Federer’s right knee went under the knife twice. The Swiss, who practiced with Evans in Dubai as he prepared for his comeback, the duo played a number of sets against each other, made better use of the familiarity.
The match opened with fighting fare. On his second set point in the first set tie-break, this time on his serve, Federer skipped into the court, looking to play a forehand approach, but misjudged the flight of the ball. The 39-year-old smiled, as if to refresh his memory. On his next opportunity, a couple of points later, he ripped a backhand winner that whistled a tune that said, I’m back.
Federer had chances on Evans’ serve in the Briton’s first two service games, but the world No.28 pounded away from the back of the court and held strong. It was the 30-year-old who broke first in the second set, when Federer swung at a backhand. That’s all he needed to settle set scores.
Federer pulled off a tough hold in the seventh game of the decider and had a match-point in the 10th game. He needed a second to close out in 2 hours and 25 minutes to make the last-eight, where he will play Nikoloz Basilashvili.