Returning Federer stumbles at 1st hurdle in Geneva Open

Sports Desk, May 18 (EFE).- Roger Federer came up short in his first match following a two-month hiatus, falling to Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in his opening contest Tuesday at the Geneva Open.

The 39-year-old Swiss tennis great had not played a competitive match since losing to Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Qatar Open quarterfinals on 11 March, opting for a cautious approach after two knee surgeries caused him to miss nearly the entire 2020 season.

He decided to skip this month’s Madrid Open and Italian Open and instead start his French Open preparations at the Geneva Open, an ATP 250 clay-court event.

Playing his first match on that surface since losing to arch-rival Rafael Nadal in the 2019 French Open semifinal, Federer showed signs of rust and moved sluggishly against the 75th-ranked Andjuar, who was a veritable wall from the baseline.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was out of sorts in the first set, putting only 40 percent of his first serves in play, getting broken in the final game and not creating a single break point against his light-serving opponent.

Federer, however, stepped up his aggressiveness at the start of the second set and was quickly rewarded when he finally broke through against Andujar’s serve in the third game to grab a 2-1 lead.

Showing greater intensity and a more potent backhand, the world No. 8 managed to hold off the combative Spaniard to force a decider and then go up an early break in the third set.

The tenor of that round-of-16 match changed radically down the stretch, however, as Andujar reeled off the final four games to seal the victory in an hour and 51 minutes.

Afterward, Federer reflected on the state of his game with two Grand Slam tournaments – the French Open and his main target, Wimbledon – coming up in the next two months.

“Sure, it’s rewarding to be back on a tennis court. But I expect better from myself,” the Swiss said in the post-match press conference.

“I feel like in practice I’ve been playing better, even in practice here. But then again as we know, matches are a different animal. I’ve got my work cut out there,” he added. EFE


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