Roger Federer emerged triumphant in his comeback match, ousting a spirited Dan Evans in three hard-fought sets. Federer was far from fluent in the match, shanking several shots midway through to give Evans a clar shot at the win.
But the Swiss played some incredibly clutch tennis in the deciding set to prevail 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-5. The 39-year-old is now into the quarterfinals of the 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where he will face Nikoloz Basilashvili on Thursday.
Speaking after his win, Roger Federer sounded extremely happy at being back on the tour, especially since he managed to mark the occasion with a win. The Swiss also expressed hope that his win would have brought some much-needed joy to a world grappling with a serious crisis.
"I hope tonight was a bit of an uplift to everything going on in the world," Federer said. "I enjoyed it. It feels good to be back. I'm happy to be standing here regardless if I won or lost but obviously winning feels better."
Roger Federer’s first match point came deep into the deciding set at 5-4, but Dan Evans held his nerve and his serve to prolong the match for a few more minutes. On being asked about his emotions during that stressful period, Federer admitted that he was more concerned about keeping his fatigue away than winning the match.
"I was tired so I was more focused [during match point] on being tired than trying to win the point," Federer said. "I just said 'You know what, if I'm going to go out, I'm going to go out swinging'."
According to Roger Federer, his serve was what kept him in the match towards the closing stages, as Dan Evans was the fresher player of the two. The 39-year-old also claimed that clinching victory with his classic down-the-line backhand was 'nice'.
"Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I'm incredibly happy," Federer continued. "It was a pleasure to share the court with Dan and it was nice to finish off with a backhand down the line, always on a match point."
Roger Federer revealed he wasn’t entirely rid of his knee pain, but added that he wasn't sure whether his fatigue was due to his overworked muscles or his knee. The Swiss isn't too worried by either thing though, and he stressed on the importance of finding his fitness gradually.
"I don't know if I ever was completely pain-free but you get to feel tired and you don't know if it's the muscle or whatever," Federer said. "Actually I don't really mind because this is how I felt throughout. Important is how I feel tomorrow and the next day for the next 6 months."
Bit annoying really to play a good match like that & get nothing for it: Dan Evans after his loss to Roger Federer
Dan Evans put his heart and soul into the match against Roger Federer, but that wasn't enough. Evans matched the Swiss for a majority of the evening, before dying-stage nerves from the Brit tilted the match in Federer's favor.
Evans called the loss 'frustrating', while lamenting the fact that his efforts didn't earn much reward.
"It's a bit annoying really to play a good match like that and get nothing for it," Evans said. "It's frustrating. In a few days I can say I'm in a good spot, going the right direction but it's a loss at the end of the day. Doesn't matter who it's to, it's tough."
Dan Evans also claimed he wasn't entirely convinced that Roger Federer was running on fumes in the closing stages of the match. According to the Brit, both players were 'in decent shape' during that period.
"It wasn’t easy conditions although I thought the level of tennis was pretty good," Evans said. "I'm not sure he was tiring. I thought we were both in decent shape."