Roger Federer: ‘I was surprised when I won the opening set against Evans in Doha’

Roger Federer returns to action on Tuesday at the ATP 250 event in Geneva, facing Pablo Andujar in the second round. Geneva will be Roger’s only second tournament since the last year’s Australian Open, struggling with a knee injury and undergoing two surgeries in February and May before skipping the rest of 2020. In March, Federer played his first comeback tournament, entering the ATP 250 event in Doha and facing Daniel Evans in the second round. In a recent interview, Roger revealed he was scared about his level in the opening set, especially after not playing for over a year.

Despite some expected ups and downs, Roger beat the Briton 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes, making a winning return after 405 days! Federer and Evans had trained in Dubai ahead of Doha, playing 20 practice sets and learning a lot about each other’s game, which was evident on the court in Doha. Both players saved three out of four break chances, and Federer won four points more to prevail with a late break in the decider, his only in the entire match! Roger 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 Federer made a winning return in Doha in March, beating Evans in three sets.

“I need to play ten matches to give you a better answer about my level. Things have been going well in practice. When you come back from an injury, you’re in a different place than everyone else. I am excited about the comeback and won’t be focused on being at the same level as Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic right now. I was happy that the knee didn’t feel any different from hard to clay, and I expect the same in the switch from clay to grass. I’ve never had any major issues going between the surfaces, but with an injury and not having played as long as I have, the concerns are always there. So far, the clay has been good for me, and I hope it will be good for me for the grass. Going to Doha, I was particularly worried about the level and the first set I played with Daniel Evans; I won it, and I surprised myself a little.

Now we’re on clay; I’m more focused on the clay than my opponent. Once I get healthy and matches under my belt, that will increase my confidence. I think then I’ll be a part of the top tier. If you want to be in the top level, you need to play 50, 80 or 100 matches per season, which gets more challenging as you get older. One thing is for sure; the generation of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have all gotten better with more experience. Dominic Thiem won a Major in the meantime, and Rafa and Novak are still where they are. You would think that the game has improved again. It will be an extra challenge to find that level, but it was never going to be simple, whether I was out for three months or almost a year and a half,” Roger Federer said.

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