The wait is finally over. The epic moment has come and gone and now the pundits, the fans, and the fellow tennis players can sit back and relax after nearly two hours of Roger Federer show.
Qatar Open is not the biggest of stages for tennis. A mere ATP 250 event that more often than not serves as a kind of practice for the elites and a chance for glory for the second string of tennis stratosphere. And as of now only the round of 16 games are going on. And yet, tennis fans from around the world were glued to their tv screens. All because of one man-Roger Federer.
And boy, what a match it turned out to be. From breathtaking rallies to exquisite SABR, from finesse drop shots to nail-biting tiebreaks, the fixture had it all. And at the end of it all, the scoreline was 7-6,3-6,7-5 in the favor of our beloved Swiss maestro.
“Excited but not pain-free,” says Roger Federer
Despite a reduced crowd in Doha due to COVID-19 restrictions, Roger Federer received a warm welcome to Centre Court. Federer repaid local fans for their support with a thrilling opening set, which went all the way to a tie-break.
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After a tight first set, Evans won four successive points in the tie-break to lead 4-2. But Federer fought back to level the scores before taking the set with a magnificent backhand cross-court pass.
Evans, who had lost all three of his previous career meetings with Federer, capitalized on a series of errors from the Swiss in the fourth game of the second set to break serve and move 3-1 ahead, before taking the set 6-3 to force a decider.
The deciding set was much closer and went with serve until the 12th game when Federer broke Evans’ serve for the first time.
“It feels good to be back. It’s good to be standing here regardless of whether I won or lost, it’s great fun,” Federer said.
“I don’t know if it was ever completely pain-free,” he added. “You get to feel tired and you don’t know if it’s the muscle.
“[What’s] important is how I feel tomorrow and the next day for the next six months.“
Up Next in Doha-
Roger Federer will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals. The Georgian broke Malek Jaziri on six occasions to record a 6-2, 6-2 win on Court B. Federer won his only previous ATP Head2Head encounter against Basilashvili 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 at the 2016 Australian Open.
On the other hand, top seed Dominic Thiem withstood the challenge of Russian wild card Aslan Karatsev on Wednesday in a comeback victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
The World No. 4 bounced back from last month’s Australian Open fourth-round exit by beating Karatsev 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 in one hour, and 56 minutes.