Roger Federer title defense in Halle nearly ended on opening day. Facing Philipp Kohlschreiber in a rematch of their 2008 final, Federer found himself down 5-4 with the German serving in the final set breaker. But the Swiss won the last three points to earn victory 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(5).
“I’m very relieved,” said Federer who had some interesting moments in the match. “Philipp served at 5-4 in the tie-break. It’s rough on grass, it takes two serves and maybe that’s it.
“I wasted two match points at 5-4, 15-40 and then saved a break point at five-all, so it was a roller-coaster ride in the end. My nerves are still going a bit crazy right now,” he said.
Federer’s won Halle seven times in his career. He’ll play the Ernests Gulbis – Sergiy Stakhovsky winner on Wednesday. Federer’s lost to both in Slams in their most recent meetings.
Also at the event, youngsters Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev advanced today.
Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych and Gael Monfils are in action tomorrow.
In Queen’s, defending champion Grigor Dimitrov overcame a 3-1 second set hole against Sam Querrey to force a third before darkness set it.
Milos Raonic, playing his first event in a month, went three sets with James Ward. Lleyton Hewitt squandered a matchpoint in a loss to Kevin Anderson and Richard Gasquet collected his 400th career match win.
“I have loved coming back here and playing for so many years,” said Hewitt, a 4-time Queen’s champion. “It was special to come back. Knowing it was going to be the last one, as well. I have played so many big matches in front of big crowds here over the years with big names, quality players. For most of the first two sets I played pretty well out there.”
Tomorrow, Rafael Nadal returns along with Andy Murray and Marin Cilic. Nadal, who just won Stuttgart on Sunday, faces Alexandr Dolgopolov.
“Since one month and a half, I feel that I am playing better. The most important thing is that I am enjoying being on court again,” said Nadal yesterday. “[Grass is] probably the second surface where I have had the most success in my career. So I feel comfortable but I have to play well. That’s all. Today I don’t have physical limitations like I had in 2012 and 2013, so that’s important.”
Murray will be joined by Jonas Bjorkman who will figure more prominently this grass season during Amelie Mauresmo’s pregnancy.
“We’ve spent four or five days on the grass now,” said Murray over the weekend. “The things that he did extremely well as a player are things I think I could really learn and benefit from with him. He was a very aggressive returner and I think that works extremely well on the grass courts.
“He was very good up at the net. He was the No. 1 doubles player in the world. If you can get yourself up to the net and play aggressive tennis, it can make a big difference on this surface. There are things I’m hoping I can work on and improve upon within my team and see how it goes.”
Murray has won Queen’s three times most recently in 2013.
“I feel like the past few months consistently I’ve been playing well at the big events and hopefully that will stand me in good stead,” Murray added.
French Open winner Stan Wawrinka also opens his grass season against Australian star Nick Kyrgios.
Tuesday Queen’s Schedule
CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs  S. Wawrinka (SUI)
Not Before 1:00 pm
S. Querrey (USA) vs  G. Dimitrov (BUL) 64 36 00
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs A. Dolgopolov (UKR)
 A. Murray (GBR) vs [Q] Y. Lu (TPE)
 M. Cilic (CRO) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)
 A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA) vs [WC] D. Inglot (GBR) / A. Murray (GBR)
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