"My goals for Wimbledon are clearly quite high" - Roger Federer after beating Ilya Ivashka in Halle 1r

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer played his first match on grass in nearly two years when he took on Ilya Ivashka in the first round of the 2021 Noventi Open on Monday. Federer was rusty at the start and also showed some signs of nerves, but eventually came through 7-6 (4), 7-5.

After his win over the Belarusian, Roger Federer reiterated his long-standing desire to do well at Wimbledon. According to the World No. 8, even an early defeat at Halle wouldn't hurt him too much as it would allow him another week's worth of practice.

"We're all in the same boat," Roger Federer said. "Everyone else hasn't played on the grass either for the last couple of years. My goals for Wimbledon are clearly quite high. But if it doesn't work out in Halle, I have another week's practice."

It was a slow start for Roger Federer in Halle, as Ilya Ivashka generated a couple of break points in the Swiss' second service game of the match. But Federer saved those with some timely first serves, and didn't face any more break points the rest of the way.

In his post-match presser, Roger Federer also expressed his delight at playing a near-flawless tiebreaker, which he won 7-4. According to the 39-year-old, winning the tiebreaker helped him find some composure and soothe his nerves.

"I had a tough moment in the first set when he had a break point so that was crucial to get out of those and then I played a really good tiebreaker which I was happy about," Federer said. "I think as the match went on I started to create more opportunities and started to calm my nerves a little bit; overall I think I served very well."

Roger Federer also claimed there is some room for improvement in his game, and that his back - known to develop occasional discomfort on grass - felt fine. The World No. 8 pointed out that at this stage, it is important to build match fitness and test his knees.

"Clearly it can always be a little better but I'm happy and excited that I was able to get through the first one," Roger Federer continued. "The back is good, I feel fine from that standpoint. It's just really the legs and the match fitness that I'm looking forward to and getting through breakers."

When asked if training on grass had been stressful on his body, Roger Federer replied that everything seemed fine for the moment. He then went on to joke that he needs a coffee to quell his early morning blues, like most people his age do.

"The only thing I can feel at any one time is age," Federer said. "I'm a bit stiff for the first five minutes (after waking up) until my first coffee. But I think everyone has that."

"Very little crowd is a bit of a disappointment" - Roger Federer

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer played in front of a largely empty stadium in Halle, as fans are not allowed at the Noventi Open. Federer was, however, cheered on by wife Mirka and coach Ivan Ljubicic in the stands.

After his win over Ilya Ivashka, the Swiss maestro expressed his disappointment at the lack of fans but claimed he was pleased to mark his return to grass with a win.

"I love playing here," Federer said. "Very little crowd is a bit of a disappointment for all of us but at the same time I'm excited to be back on the green grass and getting a win is always very nice."

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Edited by Musab Abid
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