It will be Daniel Evans to baptize the return to the field, after more than a year of absence, of Roger Federer. The 30-year-old Briton, number 28 in the world, qualified for the second round of the ATP tournament in Doha and in the second round he will face the Swiss champion, former world number one, absent from the fields since January 30, 2020.
Evans has passed in the first round the French Jérémy Chardy in three sets (6-4, 1-6, 6-2) under the eyes of Federer, who made a quick pass in the stands alongside his coach Ivan Ljubicic. Current world number 6, Federer enjoyed a bye in the first round and will return to competition on Wednesday, more than 400 days after his last official match, the Australian Open 2020 semi-final he lost to Djokovic.
Meanwhile, the Swiss, who will turn 40 in August, has been operated on twice on his right knee. But he seemed enthusiastic about the idea of returning to the field: "Playing tennis is like riding a bike, I know how to do it," he said at a press conference on the eve of the tournament.
Belinda Bencic recently spoke about Roger Federer's comeback to the tour from a year-long layoff. During her press conference after her win over Veronika Kudermetova on Tuesday, Bencic reminisced about her past triumph in Dubai before expressing her elation at Federer's much-awaited return in Doha.
Bencic on Roger Federer
"When I see the wall of champions, it's great moments. Especially when I see that Roger Federer won that year as well," Belinda Bencic said. Bencic added that the whole tennis world had been counting down the days to Federer's return, given that he last played a competitive match at the 2020 Australian Open.
"I mean it's exciting for everyone," Bencic said. "We were all counting the days (to his return). I thought he was playing today and then I was like, 'Oh no!' One more day we have to wait. He is coming back on my birthday (Wednesday)."
Bencic has frequently asserted that she loves playing with Federer, and on Tuesday she expressed hope that she can team up with the 39-year-old in mixed doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. "I would like to play mixed with him in Tokyo," Bencic said.
Roger Federer has come into this tournament with fairly low expectations; the 39-year-old isn’t hoping for more than a win or two. But with Evans not in the best of form and Borna Coric (his potential quarterfinal opponent) having pulled out, Federer suddenly has a much clearer path to the semis - where he could possibly face Denis Shapovalov.
Dan Evans is by no means a pushover though. The Brit will be motivated to give his all in Federer’s comeback match - which will likely attract eyeballs from all over the world.