Following a month-long absence from the ATP World Tour, Roger Federer resumed professional competition on Monday afternoon at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and found his way into the second round of the tournament following a straightforward victory. He will now come up against Fernando Verdasco, whom he holds an undefeated 5-0 head to head record against in the head-to-head series.
The world No. 2 had been absent since a surprise premature exit in the third round of the Australian Open last month. Federer lost to Andres Seppi, whom he held a 13-0 record against prior to their most recent meeting in Melbourne. However, on Monday in Dubai, it was business as usual for the Swiss star, as he overcame a determined Mikhail Youzhny to push his undefeated head-to-head series against the Russian to 16-0.
“The last thing I want to do is lose back-to-back matches playing careful,” said the six-time Dubai champion. “I know I can play careful tennis, but then you cannot leave it up to the other guys sometimes if you are going to win or lose. I feel over the years I have won my biggest matches in most tournaments by playing on my terms, and you can’t always do it. It’s difficult to come out and dominate every match, every point, and it’s also hard work always playing aggressive.”
Up next for Federer is a match-up against Fernando Verdasco, who began his campaign in Dubai with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Guillermo Garcia Lopez on Tuesday. The Spaniard hit 7 aces, won 78% of his first service points and saved 4 of 5 break points to close out the match in exactly 80 minutes.
This marks the sixth time that Federer and Verdasco will step across the net from each other on the professional tour, and the Spaniard is yet to earn his first victory against the Grand Slam Great. While he is capable of giving Federer a run for his money, he will be hard pressed to find a way to close out the match.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets