Roger Federer drove a silky smooth backhand winner down the line to cap a winning tennis return after a 405-day absence, with victory over Dan Evans at the Qatar Open on Wednesday.

The iconic Swiss with 20 Grand Slam titles and two 2020 knee surgeries which kept him out of the game for more than a year, announced that he’s back and ready to fight on at age 39.

Federer defeated Evans 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-5 in two and a half hours on a second match point.

“It feels good to be back,” the 39-year-old told a masked and socially distanced crowd capped at 20 per cent of stadium capacity.

“I would be standing here anyway  but winning feels better than losing,  I’m incredibly happy with my performance.”

Federer trained with Evans for an extended period at his base in Dubai earlier this year, putting final preparations on his comeback.

“We played more than 20 practice sets, I’m very content.”

The three-time Doha champion admitted he was tiring at the end and was more concerned about that issue than his repaired right knee. 

“I was more focused on tiredness than the knee. but finishing it off with a backhand down the line on match point was perfect.”

The Swiss added: “The knee has never been pain-free, but at the end you’re not sure if you are feeling the muscles of the knee. 

“What’s important is how it feels tomorrow and over the next six months. It;’s a long and tough road ahead, a huge challenge.

“To come back at my age is not easy, but it’s all worth it because I played a great match today.”

The 49-minute opening set was a testing period for both men as the Swiss stepped back into competition.

The opener went to a tiebreaker, where Federer closed the gap while trailing 2-4. Evans did not bend, earning a set point which was quickly saved.

Federer took the set on his third opportunity, a perfect passing shot which Evans could not touch.

Evans secured the first break of the match for 3-1 in the second set; Federer missed a chance to get it back a few minutes later to trail 1-4. The British player squared the match at a set apiece as Federer returned a backhand long.

Federer missed on a match point in the 10th game of the third before finishing off the popular victory.

Main photo:- Roger Federer makes a winning return in Doha after 405 day injury break – by ATP


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