Returning to competitive tennis for the first time in six months following injury layoffs, former World No. 1 Roger Federer won his Hopman Cup match against Great Britain’s Daniel Evans in straight sets – 6-3, 6-4 today.
The Swiss, who is currently ranked 16th on the ATP standings, took on the 66th ranked Evans for only the second time in his career; the last time the pair met was at Wimbledon in 2016, with Federer winning their Round of 32 match in straight sets.
Federer had not played a match since his mammoth semi-final against Milos Raonic at Wimbledon 2016, struggling with an old meniscus injury that had resurfaced and seriously hampered his form, but today showed no vestiges of pain or injury. The 35-year-old Swiss kicked off the match today with an ace, establishing a stronghold early on.
Taking crucial, and early, breaks of serve, Federer played some perfectly played cross-court forehands to flummox Evans, who fought to match Federer’s speed. Almost matching Federer’s agility, Evans ran across the court to make some powerful shots off Federer, but netted a few crucial ones, perhaps the key in his loss today.
Both quick and agile, Federer showed no signs of fatigue or struggle in his game today, with some quick 160km/h serves to the Briton.
Federer also successfully challenged a number of close shots today, each time successfully. The Swiss had earlier opened up his practice sessions at the Hopman Cup to public after tickets to all his matches were sold out, and the stadium to watch the ace was packed and cheering on the icon.
His performance today augurs well for Federer and his fans, given that he is evidently back to his optimal levels of fitness.
Perhaps the highlight of Federer’s performance today was a jumping smash the Swiss put on; returning an Evans forehand, Federer took the aerial route, leaping in the air for a smash into the opposite half of the net.
In one shot, Federer displayed that he is still, at 35 and with just under two decades of professional tennis and 17 Grand Slam titles behind him, that he is by no means struggling for either strength or form.
He hit 5 aces – and 24 winners in today’s match, successfully breaking his opponent, but committed 10 unforced errors in the first set, with another ten in the second – a statistic Evans would match.
Federer will enter the Australian Open under a protected ranking, given to top players who have taken long injury-induced breaks from the sport. Several have speculated that the Swiss may be nearing the end of his career, although Federer has himself said he intends to “stick around for another couple of years at least.”
Earlier this year, Federer revealed his six month break had been instrumental in recuperation and recovery. The ace had returned to full-time practice in November, and last month live-streamed a hitting session with French ace Lucas Pouille in Dubai, Federer’s practice center when he is on Tour.
Asked today whether he could win another Grand Slam, Federer replied “I’ll even take two or three or four.”