Evans To Face Federer In Doha

Daniel Evans (photo: QTF)

DOHA/STARNBERG, March 9, 2021

Daniel Evans will be the first opponent of Swiss maestro Roger Federer in his comeback match at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. The 30-year-old Briton fought past French veteran Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in Tuesday’s first round at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.

Evans struck seven aces and won 65 per cent of his first-service points to secure victory in two hours and 15 minutes.

Federer returns after 405 days away from competition 

Federer played his last match in January 2020, falling in the semi-finals of the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Struggling with a knee injury, the 39-year-old underwent two surgeries in February and May, decided to pass the rest of the season and to return in 2021. Federer also skipped this year’s Australian Open and has been practicing with Evans in recent weeks in Dubai.

“I got to practice the last two weeks – I thought he was playing pretty well, we played plenty of sets,” said Evans.“It was competitive, but it’s all very different when you get on the match court.”

The encounter between Federer and Evans is scheduled for Wednesday evening. The 20-time Grand Slam champion leads their head-to-head record 4-0. Their last meeting took place in the third round of the 2019 US Open with Federer winning in three sets. On Tuesday in Doha, Federer watched his upcoming rival during his win over Chardy.

“He’s obviously seen a lot of my game the last few weeks so I would say it was more out of boredom,” said Evans.“He was probably waiting for his practice, rather than scouting out what’s happening on the court.

“Some days we practiced for three hours, other days we practiced for an hour and a half. It’s been good to get some good practice. It’s unfortunate that I’m in his part of the draw this week, but moving forward it’s a good little block I put together.”

Harris knocks out idol Wawrinka

Later in the day, South African qualifier Lloyd Harris caused the upset of the day by knocking out No. 7 seed Stan Wawrinka 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 7-5. The World No. 84 withstood 17 aces from Wawrinka breaking the Swiss’ serve two times to prevail after two hours and 40 minutes.

“I don’t have many words right now,” said Harris. “Stan was my idol growing up, so just to play against him was incredible. I was as determined as I could be, really pumped to play. I am proud of how I fought back after losing the second set. I feel like I’ve done really in the past couple of months and I hope to keep the momentum going.”

Up next for Harris will be Marton Fucsovics of Hungary. The runner-up of last week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 7-6(3), 6-3 in one hour and 43 minutes.

Goffin, Jaziri advance

In other action, David Goffin defeated Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4. The No. 6 seed from Belgium won 57 per cent of the total points played to advance after one hour and 21 minutes. Goffin will next take on US-American Talyor Fritz.

Wild card entry Malek Jaziri from Tunisia edged past Slovakian lucky loser Norbert Gombos 6-2, 7-5 to face Nikoloz Basilahsvili of Georgia in the second round. Vasek Pospisil edged out Australian qualifier Christopher O’Connell 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 22 minutes and will next face No. 4 seed Denis Shapovalov in an all-Canadian clash.