Winning return for Roger Federer after a year, a month and 11 days away from the tennis courts due to knee problems. The Swiss champion has in fact passed the second round of the Qatar Open on the fields of Doha, making his debut on the draw after enjoying a bye as second seed.
Federer beat Englishman Daniel Evans 7-6 (8), 3-6, 7-5 at the end of a battle that lasted almost two and a half hours, thus qualifying for the quarter-finals where he will meet Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. During a recent interview, Federer pointed out how he has been traveling non-stop ever since he turned pro in 1998.
Roger Federer recalls his title win from 2005
"I think it's (tennis) one of the toughest sports out there in terms of travel schedules," Roger Federer stated. "Because we come to see the people, the people don’t really come see us essentially because we travel to their country and their city.
We love to do that but sometimes it gets taxing on the mind. So it's good to some time have a bit of a break, that’s why you have to be a bit wise with your schedule I believe." Roger Federer is a three-time champion at Qatar, but he last won the title back in 2011.
Federer recalled his title win from 2005, where he beat his now-coach Ivan Ljubicic in the final. "I’m happy to have won the tournament several times," the Swiss went on. "I'm happy I've won the golden falcon (name of the trophy) here.
One time I beat my coach here, he doesn't like to talk about it, because he thinks that was one of the easiest finals I've ever had, but that's not true, I always respected him, he was a very dangerous player."
Roger Federer leads Nikoloz Basilashvili 1-0 in the head-to-head. The two played each other at the 2016 Australian Open, with Federer winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. 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.