Federer makes winning return in Stuttgart
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