PERTH, Australia: Roger Federer showed no signs of rust in his first competitive match for six months when he outclassed Dan Evans 6-3, 6-4 at the Hopman Cup on Monday.
The 17-time grand slam winner underwent knee surgery in February and, after missing the French Open with a back injury, announced in July that he needed extensive rehabilitation and would be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Federer walked out to a standing ovation from more than 13,500 fans at the Perth Arena and breezed to an easy win over Evans, putting Switzerland 1-0 ahead in their match against Britain in the mixed team event.
“The standing ovation coming in, it was very special. I’m here now enjoying and looking forward to the week of course,” the 35-year-old said in a courtside interview.
Asked what keeps him going, Federer said; “I guess it depends also on how you get hurt. I got hurt filling up a bath for my children. It’s not really the way I wanted to leave this game.”
The former world number one, who has slipped to 16th in the rankings, said he enjoyed the time out but had started to miss tennis.
“You can’t be more happy to return back on a Centre Court, taping your ankles, tying your shoes and walking out and getting that kind of welcome,” he said.
Federer has not won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2012.
“It would be nice to win another one, of course I’d even take two-three-four,” he said.
“It’s tough at the top. A lot of good guys are there right now, a lot of young guys are coming up too. The gap’s definitely not very big but I gave it chance. Let’s see what happens.”
Gasquet powers France
Cagey veteran Richard Gasquet led France to a 2-1 win over Germany at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Monday.
Gasquet beat rising star Alexander Zverev in their men’s singles match and then teamed with Kristina Mladenovic to win the deciding mixed doubles rubber.
Although Gasquet, 30, is ranked six places above the teenage Zverev, the German last year became the youngest player to break into the top 20 since Novak Djokovic in 2006.
Zverev’s power was on display early as he unleashed a string of winners off both wings and was rewarded with the first break of serve in the seventh game.
Gasquet immediately broke back to level at 4-4, withstood break points in the ninth game and clinched the set with another break in the 12th game.
He needed just one break of serve in the second set, in the sixth game, to see off the challenge of a frustrated Zverev 7-5, 6 in 86 minutes. Gasquet then teamed with Mladenovic for a comprehensive 4-2, 4-1 win over Zverev and Petkovic in the mixed doubles under the quickfire Fast Four format.
Germany had earlier taken the lead when Andrea Petkovic benefited from an early arrival in Australia and an unorthodox preparation to put in a quality performance against Mladenovic, winning 6-2, 6-1.
“I normally spend Christmas with the family but I decided it was time to make a sacrifice,” said Petkovic. — Agencies
Hopman Cup results
Switzerland bt Great Britain 3-0
Men’s singles: Roger Federer (SUI) bt Dan Evans (GBR) 6-3, 6-4
Women’s singles: Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Mixed doubles: Bencic/Federer (SUI) bt Watson/Evans (GBR) 4-0, 4-1
France bt Germany 2-1
Women’s singles: Andrea Petkovic (GER) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2, 6-1
Men’s singles: Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt Alexander Zverev (GER) 7-5, 6-3
Mixed doubles: Mladenovic/Gasquet (FRA) bt Petkovic/Zverev (GER) 4-2, 4-1 (Fast four)