Competing for the first time in 405 days, the 20-time Major champion Roger Federer defeated Daniel Evans 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes in the second round in Doha. Roger lost to Novak Djokovic in the last year’s Australian Open semi-final and couldn’t compete for over 13 months, struggling with a knee injury and undergoing two surgeries in February and May. Working on the practice court since October, Roger made an official return in Doha on Wednesday, facing a well-known opponent and prevailing for a massive victory on his comeback trail. Federer and Evans had trained in Dubai in the previous days, playing 20 practice sets and learning a lot about each other’s game, which was evident on the court in Doha yesterday. Both players saved three out of four break chances, with Federer winning four points more and prevailing with a late break in the decider, his only in the entire match!
Federer was a bit rusty, which was expected after such a long break, struggling from his backhand wing but still doing enough to prevail and advance into the quarters. Roger held at 15 with an ace in the first game, and they reached 4-4 in just 23 minutes, with no chances for the returners. The Swiss saved the first break point in the ninth game with a forehand winner, and they reached a tie break that saw 18 points.
Roger Federer made a winning return in Doha.
The Briton won a point at the net at 5-5 to create a set point, denied by Federer’s forehand winner. The Swiss remained focused and hit two winners at 8-8 to secure the set following a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner.
Unlike the opener, the second set saw many deuces and a single break for Evans at 2-1 when Federer sprayed a backhand mistake. The Briton saved a break point in the next game to remain in front and fired three service winners at 5-3 to secure the set and force a decider. Federer fended off two break points at 3-3 in the final set with winners and kept the pressure on his opponent in the rest of the encounter. Daniel saved a match point at 4-5 with a beautiful volley winner before Roger broke him at 15 with a backhand down the line winner in game 12 to emerge at the top and celebrate the victory.