Halle 2021: 3 talking points from Roger Federer's win over Ilya Ivashka in his grasscourt comeback

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer marked his return to grasscourt action with a shaky but ultimately confidence-building 7-6(4), 7-5 win over Ilya Ivashka in the first round of the 2021 Noventi Open at Halle.

Federer, who was watched on by wife Mirka for the first time in months, had a rough start to the match. Ivashka generated a couple of break points in the fourth game of the first set, and at that stage it looked like the Swiss' lack of match practice was going to be a big factor.

But Federer improved as the contest wore on. Although he struggled to time his returns, especially on the backhand wing, he didn't face any further break points.

On that note, here are three key takeaways from Federer's win on his grasscourt comeback:

#1 Roger Federer was clutch when put under pressure

Roger Federer and Ilya Ivashka won 73 points each in this two-set encounter. Federer struck 23 winners and committed a whopping 26 unforced errors, while Ivashka returned figures of 28 winners and just 16 unforced errors.

The numbers point to the closeness of the match and indicate that Ivashka more than held his own throughout. In fact, in the first set, Federer managed to win just two points on his opponent's serve - out of six games.

But the World No. 8 upped his game in the ensuing tiebreak, winning five points in a row at one stage. Despite looking like the second-best player for vast stretches of the set, he had somehow managed to steal it with some clutch play on the big points.

Similarly, Roger Federer again turned on the screws late in the second set, where he broke the 27-year-old's serve for the first time in the match.

But arguably the biggest moment of the match came in the fourth game of the first set, when Federer went down 15-40 on his serve. The Swiss found three consecutive big serves to take control of the game, and that signaled the end of his serving troubles.

If Federer had given up his serve at that point, he would probably have lost the first set given how poorly he was returning.

#2 Roger Federer can still be wasteful with break point and match point opportunities

Roger Federer's first break point - also his first match point - of the match came when Ilya Ivashka served at 4-5 in the second set. But the Swiss let that chance go by, failing to take control of the point which ended with the Belarusian striking a volley winner.

Federer then earned himself three more match points with Ivashka serving at 5-6, 0-40. But the Swiss squandered a second match point by missing a routine down-the-line backhand, following which Ivashka saved another by hammering down a 203 kmph ace.

Federer finally closed out the match on his fourth match point as Ivashka netted a forehand. Needless to say though, the 20-time Major champion would need to clean up this area of his game if he hopes to challenge the tougher opponents lying ahead.

#3 It's too early to predict Roger Federer's chances at Wimbledon

Can Roger Federer win another Wimbledon title?
Can Roger Federer win another Wimbledon title?

Wimbledon might be just two weeks away, but Roger Federer still has a while to go before he can think about contending for the grasscourt Major.

Federer has work to do on his game; his backhand drive, in particular, wasn't in great shape against Ivashka. That said, Federer did execute his sliced and blocked returns well, which proved to be the decisive factor in the end.

Against a returner of a higher caliber, the 10-time Halle champion would need all departments of his game to be in fine working order. And he hasn't quite reached that stage yet.

Roger Federer's physical condition seemed fine on Monday, but it remains to be seen how the body will hold up after a few matches in succession. All things considered, it is too early to predict how deep Federer could go at SW19 this year.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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