Federer's hunt for 100th title starts with win
Roger Federer began his latest quest for a 100th ATP title with a battling 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Competing for the first time since his fourth-round defeat by Stefanos Tsitsipas at last month's Australian Open, world No. 7 Federer overcame a blip midway through his match before rallying to beat Kohlschreiber.
Despite enjoying a 13-0 head-to-head record against Kohlschreiber coming into the contest, Federer said his mindset ahead of the deciding third set was to somehow avoid an early defeat against the German.
"Just somehow get through. Somehow try not to lose," the 37-year-old said.
"I'm very pleased I was able to find a way. I actually played a really good third set."
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who has been stuck on 99 titles since triumphing at his hometown Basel tournament last October, next faces Fernando Verdasco after the world No. 32 beat Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Federer's task in the tournament became a bit easier with seventh seed Milos Raonic and fourth seed Karen Khachanov, both in the same half of the draw as the Swiss, suffering opening-round exits.
Russian Khachanov was felled by world No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-1, while Raonic was beaten 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 by German Jan-Lennard Struff.
Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut later defeated wildcard Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-3. - REUTERS