20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has won his first professional match in over a year after beating Great Britain’s Dan Evans 7-6(8) 3-6 7-5 in Doha.
Federer hasn’t won a match since January 2020 at the Australian Open where he suffered a groin injury.
The Swiss star then underwent arthroscopic surgery in his right knee that forced him to withdraw from the clay season, before suffering a setback and shutting himself down for the entire year.
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Federer wasn’t fit enough to play at this year’s Australian Open but ear-marked Doha as the opportunity to return.
Federer looked a little rusty at times, particularly when he had to check what the shot clock time was before the match, but he also showed a lot of the old magic.
Evans fought hard and more than held his own against his legendary opponent but ultimately he was just outlasted by Federer.
It was a magical moment for Federer who said it had been a long and tough road since his last match, a semi-final defeat by Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open.
"It feels good to be back, happy to be standing here whether I won or lost," the evergreen Federer said on court.
"I was tired and focused on being tired rather than winning the points. If I was going to go out I wanted to go out swinging. Incredibly happy about my performance and it was nice to finish with a backhand winner down the line.
"We'll see how I feel tomorrow and the next day and the next six months," Federer said. "It's been a long and tough road but I enjoyed it, it was a huge challenge and I had a wonderful team around me who supported me throughout."
After a traumatic year for the world and a testing one for tennis, the sight of Federer going through his silky repertoire again was a reassuring one.
"After everything I hope this was a bit of an uplift," said three-times champion Federer, who will face Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals.
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