Federer Fires In Summer Hard-Court Return

Swiss No. 2 seed contests first match in Cincinnati since claiming the title in 2015

Roger Federer’s first competitive outing in the American Midwest in three years is off to a flying start with the Swiss seeing off Peter Gojowczyk in the second round of the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday. In his first ATP World Tour event since turning 37 on 8 August, the seven-time champion needed just 72 minutes to defeat the German, 6-4, 6-4.

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The No. 2 seed had not played since squandering a match point in his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Kevin Anderson a month ago and admitted to feeling anxious about his US summer hard-court return. But despite a rusty opening service game, in which he rolled down two double faults to face a break point, the Swiss soon hit his straps. 

“I felt good in that first match, to be honest, walking out, hardly any nerves,” Federer said. “I think I knew what I wanted to do, what I had to do. Game plan is very simple. It's straightforward, it's fast-court tennis.

“I'm only feeling better every day that has gone by after Wimbledon. So it's nice to have played a match so my last match is not the Anderson match, so you've kind of turned the page, I guess, in that regard. It's a good thing.”

He served out the opening set 6-4 with a sublime serve-volley reaping the backhand volley winner. When Federer broke in the opening game of the second set he looked to be cruising, with a touch-volley winner edging him to 4-2.

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Saving his best point for the brink of defeat, Gojowzyck – who had defeated Joao Sousa in the first round – pulled off a smash passing shot on his way to holding for 3-4 but it would not distract Federer from the job at hand. He served it out to love to set a third-round meeting with Argentine Leonardo Mayer, an earlier 7-6(7), 6-4 winner over Andy Murray's conqueror, Lucas Pouille.

“I do believe usually it takes two or three matches to get going… like aiming for the lines, finding the rhythm on the serve, being able to serve very accurate, time and time again, getting used to the balls, how the ball flies,” Federer said. “That's why I'm always happy when I clear the first hurdle of any event, because it gives me an opportunity to actually play better the next time around.”

That’s an ominous warning for Mayer. Both prior FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes have gone Federer’s way on hard courts.

Did You Know?
Roger Federer has now won his past 11 matches in Cincinnati. The last man to defeat him was Rafael Nadal in the 2013 quarter-finals.