ROGER Federer began his Wimbledon preparations with victory over Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in Halle.
In his first match since withdrawing midway through the French Open to protect his body, the Swiss was below his best but won 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.
The Halle Open in Germany, which Federer has won a record 10 times, is his fifth event this year as he returns following two knee surgeries in 2020.
It was his first match on grass since losing the 2019 Wimbledon final.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion looked rusty for much of the match – he hit 26 unforced errors to his opponent’s 16 – but held serve throughout and was clinical at the crucial moments.
“I served very well. The back is good, I feel fine,” Federer said. “It is just the legs, match fitness I am looking forward to.
“I am excited to be back on the green grass. Getting a win is always nice.”
Federer will play Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz next. He could meet top seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals, while world number six Alexander Zverev is also in a strong field.
Sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-0) by 20-year-old American world number 50 Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda.
Seventh seed David Goffin is also out after he retired during his match against Corentin Moutet. The Belgian slipped and fell awkwardly in the first game of the second set and withdrew when his French opponent levelled the match.
Wimbledon, which was not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, begins on 28 June.
– June 15, 2021 @ 10:44 GMT |