"To come back at my age is not something that's very simple..." Roger Federer said smilingly after making his comeback after a year and winning the first round match against Dan Evans in Doha. "The good thing was that I practiced with him a couple of weeks," Federer had said.
Did this give him some inclination as to how to play Evans and win? Not really. The Swiss had admitted that he felt somewhat dodgy on practicing with Evans for weeks preparing for the Qatar Open. "In practice I was feeling just a bit like, this was not another training day...you care very much about your outcome of the game whereas in practice you could care less..."
he honestly said. The Swiss man had enjoyed his time in Doha, but the facts were still facing him that the last time he'd bowed in the second round of any event was eight years ago. It was at the 2013 Wimbledon championships against Sergiy Stakhovsky in a four set loss.
"I'm looking forward to what's to come," the 31-year-old Federer said back then. Now it may be a different story. Roger Federer's second round with Nikoloz Basilashvili was a testing ground for the Russian to prove he can keep up with the best.
Federer had won his comeback match and now in the second round he had won the first set. He was feeling confident but the second set was proving more of a challenge as the Russian dominated Federer to win 6-1. Whether it was a game face or a worried one, coming up with a winning strategy, over Basilashvili proved futile.
The deciding set was close, showing bits and pieces that the former Federer was present. When it came to the points won at the end, Federer's errors were getting him in trouble. The Russian came through and won the match 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Federer said sincerely how glad he was to win two matches. "I'm actually happy that I was able to play back-to-back three-set matches against top players. But one win and one lost summarized Federer's return in a year of no competition.
It seems that he was just warming up when the loss came. "I would have loved to play tomorrow...but at the same time, I'm also happy to get a rest..." he shyly confessed.
But for Roger Federer, th exit might not have been a huge surprise
He also didn't know how long he could have kept playing and admitted "I'm not 100 percent yet.
I can feel it, I can see it...[what's] important is to be 100 percent by the grass court season. The loss to Basilashvili signalled what Federer can and right now know he's not quite able to do. "We've just got to take a real good look at the schedule and...see how much workload the body and knee can still take..."
The Swiss man knows that he has more work to do on bieng able to play continuous and go deeper into tournaments. Is it still possible fans are wondering and probably Federer is too? It was from the outcome of the two matches Federer said on social media: "I've decided it's best to go back to training...I've decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.
Was anyone shocked by his decision? Well Federer wasn't. There are more considerations to think about on him continuing on tour. He's not playing Miami and will possibly play the European Clay season in April. But the future is still blurry after his year's absence and present comeback.
Fans and the tennis community will still have more waiting to see Federer again but as he says happily about now is that "It's really, really a positive return for me."