x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Federer off-form, but victorious in first Wimbledon prep match

Roger Federer began to move on from a disappointing French Open on Thursday, beating Joao Sousa despite a first-set loss at the ATP Gerry Weber Open.

Roger Federer celebrates after beating Joao Sousa at the Gerry Weber Open on Thursday. Thomas Starke / Bongarts / Getty Images / June 12, 2014
Roger Federer celebrates after beating Joao Sousa at the Gerry Weber Open on Thursday. Thomas Starke / Bongarts / Getty Images / June 12, 2014

Roger Federer got his Wimbledon preparations fully underway on the grasscourts of Halle on Thursday, but he looked out of sorts before finally edging Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-2 in a second round tie.

Playing for the first time since losing to Ernests Gulbis in the last 16 of the French Open, the six-time former winner of the German tournament started brightly but was soon on the backfoot against the improving Sousa.

There were no breaks of serve in the first set and it was Sousa who dominated the tie-break clinching it on his fourth set point.

Federer looked frustrated at times, but the match turned on the seventh game of the second set when Sousa’s level suddenly dipped allowing the Swiss great to pounce and secure his first break.

From then on it was all Federer with a break of serve in the first game of the deciding set sending him safely on his way into the last eight.

“I struggled a bit on return during a set and half,” said Federer. “Afterwards, it was better, more variation on second serve.

“It was slightly frustrating, but important to stay calm. Maybe I got more confidence winning this way than 6-4, 6-4.

“When I came here (Saturday) to start practice it was so so, but now it’s better. For me, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get used to the grass.”

Federer is seeded second in Halle with the top seed being newly-crowned nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal, who gets his tournament underway later on Thursday with a match against Germany’s Dustin Brown.

Third seed Milos Raonic of Canada lost on Wednesday 6-4, 6-4 to German wildcard Peter Gojowczyk.

Federer’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan, who defeated big-serving Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3).

“I’ll try to climb the mountain. Everybody thinks he’s favourite. I will try my best and enjoy,” Lu said of his chances.

“If I’m 150 per cent and he’s 100 per cent I think I’d still lose. Maybe if he is in a bad day. Nothing worse than a 6-0, 6-0.

“I have a lot of respect for Federer, he’s an overall tennis player, won everything. We learn from him watching his games.”

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