Nobody wanted to miss the return of Roger Federer. After 14 months away from the fields, on the 404th day the Swiss tennis player returned to play a tournament. And he did it at the ATP 250 in Doha, beating the British Daniel Evans in three sets: 7-6 3-6 7-5 the final result against the number 28 in the world in over 2 hours and 20 'of play.
In the quarterfinals Roger, who has nevertheless shown a good physical shape despite being alone in the last year due to knee problems, will challenge the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who dismissed the Tunisian wild card Jaziri 6-2 6-2.
In a recent interview, Roger Federer declared his eagerness to keep being a hurdle for the younger stars - just like he has been for well over a decade. The 39-year-old claimed that he, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal would try to continue holding a vice-like grip on the tour and keep winning titles.
Roger Federer on the Big 3
"One of them might defeat me but fail to defeat Novak Djokovic, or beat Novak but fail to beat Rafael Nadal, or beat Rafa but fail to beat me," Roger Federer said. "We (the Big 3) will try to stand fast for the longest time possible and will try to increase the number of our titles."
Roger Federer was left fatigued by his 144-minute long battle against Dan Evans, and it remains to be seen if his body recovers before his quarterfinal on Thursday. Moreover, Nikoloz Basilashvili would have made a note of Federer's shortcomings on Wednesday; inviting the out-of-touch 39-year-old to the net could well reap dividends for Basilashvili.
Federer will also have to be wary of the Georgian's powerful drives off both wings. Basilashvili's fast-paced groundstrokes are likely to be a bigger test for Federer’s defense than Evans’ slices. That said, Federer's serve might be the biggest difference-maker in the match on Thursday.
If the Swiss superstar is hitting his spots with his favorite shot, he will likely be able to register his second win on the trot. Roger Federer then missed the 2016 Rio Olympics due to injury. That makes the 2021 Tokyo Olympics his last shot at glory, and on Tuesday the Swiss reiterated his desire to be fully fit in time for the showpiece event.
"The Olympics is a major goal for me," Federer said. "Unfortunately, I missed the Rio Olympics (in 2016) because of a left knee injury. I hope I will return to the Tokyo Olympics. I hope that I will be fully in (shape) by then and that questions about my knee will stop."