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Federer makes winning return at Melbourne Park

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 16/1/17 Switzerland's Roger Federer walks onto the court for his Men's singles first round match against Austria's Jurgen Melzer. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 16/1/17 Switzerland's Roger Federer walks onto the court for his Men's singles first round match against Austria's Jurgen Melzer. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Roger Federer made a winning return to competitive tennis after six months out of the game on Monday, thrilling a packed Rod Laver Arena as he beat qualifier Juergen Melzer 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-2 to reach the Australian Open second round.

The 35-year-old Swiss had to battle hard throughout the two-hour, six minute contest and only really eased clear of his dogged opponent when the Austrian tired in the final set.

Federer could be forgiven a little rustiness after his prolonged absence to nurse a knee injury and made 36 unforced errors but there were also plenty of reminders of the brilliant skills that have won him 17 grand slam titles, four at Melbourne Park.

Seeded 17th, Federer has much tougher battles ahead if he makes it through to the second week of the tournament but will next pit his skills against American qualifier Noah Rubin.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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