Roger Federer shrugged off a slow start by turning it up on 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe, hanging on in the fifth set.
There were extra eyes on Federer Tuesday night because it was the Swiss’s first match since injuring his back at the Canadian Open final. After, Federer admitted that he was cautious with his movement.
“I’m very happy that I’m feeling as good as I’m feeling right now,” Federer said in press. “Honestly, if I would have felt like that going into this tournament that my back was going to get worse every match, I probably wouldn’t have played.
“My hope and my belief is that it’s only going to get better from here because every day that goes by puts me further away from what happened in Montreal. So that’s how I see it.
“I’m very happy how I’m feeling right now, how I felt coming off the court. I think there’s a lot of positives for me to look at, that I can come through a five-setter with the preparation that I had. I was definitely also lucky to play tonight because the rain. Others got all pushed over to tomorrow. So that would have been tougher for me maybe to back it up back-to-back days.
“Look, if I enter the tournament, it’s because I believe I can play and go deep. I still believe that. I think this will actually give me a lot of confidence. In the first set really I was just seeing and feeling it, see how far I could push, but I was never in pain. It was okay. That’s why when I was down a set, I just said, Okay, the match starts here. One set all, Okay, it’s a best-of-three set match. Being in the fifth set, I said, It’s great, I’m still in the match. Things are actually great.”
Despite the win, Federer was broken four times – the same number as he was broken in 7 matches at Wimbledon – and recall he never lost a set in London. But he struggled at times with Tiafoe. Is that just Tiafoe playing well, Federer playing bad or is it the back?
Federer, who is 4-0 in 5-set matches this year, will next face former US Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny.
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