World No.8 Roger Federer began preparation for the Wimbledon by defeating 27-year-old Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 7-6(4), 7-5 in the opening round of the Noventi Open in Halle on Monday.
The fifth seed Swiss ace, playing his first grass-court match of the season, will now face the winner of the match between Canada’s world No. 21 Felix Auger-Aliassime and world No.17 from Poland Hubert Hurkacz.
In another first-round match, world No.94 Corentin Moutet of France won 1-6, 7-5 after Belgium’s world No.13 David Goffin retired.
“[I] had a tough moment early on in the first set when he [Ivashka] had break points, so that was crucial to get out of those. And then I played a really good tie-break, which I was happy about. I think as the match went on I started to create more opportunities and started to also calm my nerves a bit,” Federer said after the match.
“I missed it. I hadn’t played a tournament in two years on this surface. I’ve done the hard courts, I’ve done the clay and now on the grass. It’s been great being back here in Halle. I love playing here,” he said.
This is 39-year-old Federer’s fourth tournament of the season, following a quarter-final showing in Doha, a second-round loss in Geneva, and a run to the fourth round at the French Open, where he withdrew before playing Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
“I’m excited to be back on the green grass. And getting a win is obviously always very nice,” said Federer, the eight-time Wimbledon singles champion.