Tennis icon Roger Federer has celebrated his long-awaited return to the ATP circuit with a win. The 39-year-old Swiss narrowly defeated Daniel Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open in three sets: 7-6 (8) 3-6 7-5. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, seeded second in Doha, needed 2 hours and 25 minutes for his hard-fought victory.
Federer underwent knee surgery last year and took a long time to recover. He played his last official match at the Australian Open in January 2020. At the time, he lost in three sets to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
On his return to the court in Doha, Federer received a warm welcome from the public in the stadium, which was 20 percent full due to the corona measures. At the toss he asked the referee as a joke how the rules were exactly.
Evans has never won against Federer in four mutual duels. The 30-year-old Briton had beaten Frenchman Jérémy Chardy in three sets in the first round.
Federer won the first set on his third set point. In the second set he had to leave the initiative to Evans. A break in the fourth game was sufficient for the set win for the Briton. In the third set Federer had some more rhythm and stability in his game. He lost his first match point in the tenth game, but two games later the crowd favorite struck.
Federer did not have to take action in the first round in Doha. In the quarterfinals he plays against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, the number 42 in the world.
Federer is still number 6 in the world due to the ‘frozen’ world ranking. After the Doha tournament, he makes his appearance in Dubai, where he has already been the strongest eight times.