It was like he’d never been away. After being sidelined since the Australian Open, Roger Federer raced into the third round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Tuesday in his first match back on the ATP World Tour, dismissing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4.
After reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne, the Swiss underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee for a meniscus tear. His scheduled comeback in Miami was then thwarted due to illness.
But the Basel native showed no signs of rust on Court Rainier III as he swept past Garcia-Lopez in 75 minutes. He only faltered once, losing his serve when attempting to close out the match at 5-2 in the second set. But the right-hander sealed victory at the second time of asking.
“The knee felt really good, like in practice. Felt like I didn’t have to worry about it. I could just go freely,” Federer said. “I think in a way it was a perfect match. It was close in the beginning, then I was able to go on a roll. Points were cut short by virtue of me serving better and returning better, getting second serves, taking advantage of that fact. At the end, again, I had to fight for it. I went through different phases in the match. Also emotionally, I was excited and tense in the beginning, just because it’s a first round. It’s my first match back. So it was nice to go through all these emotions.”
The 34-year-old Federer is a four-time finalist at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, finishing runner-up from 2006-08 (l. to Nadal) and again in 2014 (l. to Wawrinka). The Swiss is chasing his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.
“I think I got what I needed. So we’ll see how I feel tomorrow, tonight, the next day,” Federer said. “Sometimes after a match, you can feel it for two days. At this point I’m pretty confident I’ll feel fine.”
Last week’s Marrakech finalists both fell at the first hurdle in Monte-Carlo. Fernando Verdasco made short work of champion Federico Delbonis, beating the Argentine 6-0, 6-3, while Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated #NextGen player Borna Coric 6-4, 6-4.
David Goffin kept up his strong form, cruising into the second round with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Feliciano Lopez. The 11th-seeded Goffin has made a career-best start this season, highlighted by reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Djokovic) last month.
Qualifier Taro Daniel set a second-round clash with Dominic Thiem after beating Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4, while Jiri Vesely will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic after edging Teymuraz Gabashvili 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in two hours and 20 minutes.