It feels good to be back: Federer

Former World No 1 Roger Federer claimed he was happy to be back on the tour for the first time since the 2020 Australian Open

Roger Federer during his match against Dan Evans on Wednesday

Roger Federer came up with a hard-fought 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-5 win over Dan Evans in his first match back on tour since the 2020 Australian Open.

The former World No 1 had spent most of last season recovering from two knee surgeries. His last match before the break was a semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne.

Now at the ATP 250 Qatar Open in Doha, the 39-year-old returned after 405 days away, to pull off a thrilling win against an inform opponent in two hours and 24 minutes.

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“It feels good to be back,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said on court.

“I am happy to be standing here regardless of if I won or lost, but obviously winning feels better. It was a good match. Dan played a good match too. He has been a wonderful training partner as well. Over the past two weeks, we played over 20 sets and it went on (tonight).

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“It has been a long and tough road for me. I enjoyed it though. It has been a huge challenge of mine in my tennis career and to come back at my age is not something that is very simple. I have had a wonderful team around myself that always supported me throughout. That made it much easier and it was worth it because I played a good match today.

“I’m incredibly happy about my performance… It was nice to finish off with a backhand down the line.”

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Rustiness and new rules

The lack of match sharpness to his game was evident, as he’d shank a few groundstrokes in the match.

The last time he played was before the virus has shut the tour and Federer had to get used to the new safety protocols in place.

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At the start of the match, he needed to be reminded by Swedish chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani that the shot clock was for 25 seconds. He also had to get used to the fact that ball-kids no longer handle players’ towels.

Old-school recovery

But his post-match recovery regimen, he told reporters later, remained the same.

“You’re talking to an old-school guy. I have done one ice bath and I didn’t like it, so I’m not going to do that again.

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“I’m going to stretch and (get) a massage and sleep in and warm up properly tomorrow. Very simple.”