Roger Federer made a winning start to his grass season with a 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over Ilya Ivashka in the first round of Halle Open.
This was Federer’s first match on grasscourts since the heartbreaking defeat at 2019 Wimbledon, when he held two Championship points against Novak Djokovic before going down to him in a five-set epic.
“I’m excited to be back on the green grass,” Federer said. “And getting a win is obviously always very nice.”
“[I] had a tough moment early on in the first set when he had break points, so that was crucial to get out of those,” Federer said in his on-court interview.
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“And then I played a really good tie-break, which I was happy about. I think as the match went on I started to create more opportunities and started to also calm my nerves a bit.
“Overall I think I served very well. Clearly, I can always be a little bit better, but I’m very happy and excited that I was able to get through the first one.”
The 39-year-old did not lose serve and advanced after one hour and 35 minutes, setting a second-round clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime or Hubert Hurkacz.
This is the 39-year-old’s fourth tournament of the season following a quarter-final showing in Doha, a second-round loss in Geneva and a run to the fourth round at Roland Garros, where he withdrew before playing Matteo Berrettini.
“I missed it. I hadn’t played a tournament [on grass] in two years on this surface,” Federer said.
“I’ve done the hard courts, I’ve done the clay and now [I am] on the grass. It’s been great being back here in Halle. I love playing here.”
Federer has advanced to at least the quarter-finals in each of his 17 previous appearances in Halle. The last time he failed to make the semi-finals at this event was in 2001, when he was 19.