Fed­erer makes win­ning re­turn in Stuttgart

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STUTTGART: Wim­ble­don cham­pion Roger Fed­erer made a vic­to­ri­ous re­turn to ac­tion as he re­cov­ered from a set down to beat Ger­many’s Mis­cha Zverev 3-6 6-4 6-2 at the Stuttgart Open yes­ter­day.

The Swiss top seed, who skipped the en­tire Euro­pean clay court swing to con­cen­trate on the grass court sea­son, showed signs of rust early on against Zverev but it did not take too long for him to re­dis­cover his rhythm.

Fed­erer had some early chances, but could not take them and it was Zverev who struck first when he broke to love to lead 5-3 be­fore a cou­ple of aces helped him pocket the open­ing set.

It was the first set Zverev had ever taken from Fed­erer in six at­tempts, and a shock looked on the cards when he had a break point in the open­ing game of the sec­ond set.

Fed­erer even­tu­ally found some magic with a back­hand win­ner to break for a 4-2 lead, but the 36-year-old handed the ad­van­tage straight back in the next game.

Veteran Tommy Haas stunned Fed­erer in Stuttgart a year ago, but any thoughts of a sim­i­larly early exit against Zverev van­ished as he surged into a 4-1 lead in the sec­ond set and cruised to vic­tory.

“Three months is a long time,” said Fed­erer, who had not played since March.

Sec­ond seed Lu­cas Pouille also moved into the third round with a straight sets win over Ger­man wild­card Ru­dolf Molleker, but sixth seed De­nis Shapo­valov was sur­pris­ingly beaten by 169thranked Indian qual­i­fier Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

Mi­los Raonic eased into the sec­ond round with vic­tory over Mirza Ba­sic.

Mean­while, Mag­dalena Ry­barikova’s Wim­ble­don prepa­ra­tions suf­fered a blow as the Slo­vakian was ousted by unseeded Bel­gian Mona Barthel in the sec­ond round of the Na­ture Val­ley Open in Not­ting­ham.

Ry­barikova, 29, a semi-fi­nal­ist at Wim­ble­don last year, fell to a shock 3-6 6-1 5-7 de­feat by Barthel, who will face ei­ther de­fend­ing cham­pion Donna Ve­kic or Be­laru­sian Vera Lapko in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Ja­panese third seed Naomi Osaka recorded a dom­i­nant 6-3 6-2 win over Czech Repub­lic’s Denisa Aller­tova in just over an hour to reach her first WTA quar­ter-fi­nal on grass, where she will take on ris­ing Ro­ma­nian Mi­haela Buzarnescu.

Buzarnescu had her best ever Grand Slam run at the French Open ear­lier this month, where she reached the last 16, and con­tin­ued her good form by beat­ing Amer­i­can Irina Fal­coni 6-3 5-7 6-3 in the sec­ond round.

Slove­nian Dalila Jakupovic strolled to a 6-4 6-3 win over Poland’s Mag­dalena Frech to book a quar­ter-fi­nal berth against the win­ner of the all-Bri­tish show­down be­tween Jo­hanna Konta and Heather Wat­son, which will be played to­day.

Aus­tralian top seed Ash­leigh Barty will also be in ac­tion to­day as she bat­tles for a quar­ter-fi­nal berth against China’s Yin Duan.

French Open cham­pion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of next week’s Queen’s Club grass court tour­na­ment, say­ing he needs more time to re­cover af­ter win­ning his 11th Roland Gar­ros ti­tle.

“I would like to say sorry to the tour­na­ment organisers and most of all to the fans that were hoping to see me play, but I have spo­ken to my doc­tors and I need to lis­ten to what my body is telling me,” the 32-year-old Spa­niard said yes­ter­day.

“Queen’s is a great event, I have happy mem­o­ries of win­ning the ti­tle in 2008 and I wanted to come back this year. But it has been a very long clay court sea­son for me with great re­sults.”

World num­ber one Nadal’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from Queen’s means he is likely to ar­rive at Wim­ble­don with­out any com­pet­i­tive matches on grass this year. – Reuters

ROGER FED­ERER

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