Roger Federer suffered a disappointing defeat to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in his comeback event on the ATP Tour, and has subsequently withdrawn from the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion won his first professional match in over a year when he overcame Britain’s Dan Evans, 7-6(8) 3-6 7-5, after receiving a first-round bye in Doha.
But the Swiss superstar endured a frustrating deciding set against the Georgian journeyman and looked very disappointed as he left the court.
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"Like I said, I'm not at 100 percent yet," Federer said post-match. "I can feel it, I can see it. I'm still building up.
"This is a stepping stone. I'm actually happy with how I felt on court overall. I felt better against Dan [Evans] physically, naturally."
Asked about him looking uncomfortable at times in the final set, Federer shrugged off any fresh injury concerns.
"I honestly expected to feel this way," he said. "There is a muscle pain in my shoulder and I will be a little stiff in the morning. But overall, the body is fine. I’m happy."
Prior to his win over Evans, the 39-year-old had not won a match since January 2020 at the Australian Open, where he suffered a groin injury.
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The Swiss star then underwent arthroscopic surgery in his right knee that forced him to withdraw from the clay-court season, before he suffered a setback and shut himself down for the remainder of the year.
Later, after the defeat to Basilashvili, Federer confirmed that he had withdrawn from the upcoming event in Dubai.
"It's been great to be back on the ATP Tour, I've loved every minute playing in Doha once again," he said in a statement on social media.
"I've decided it's best to go back to training and, as a result, I've decided to withdraw from Dubai next week."
World number two Rafa Nadal has also pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free event, which runs from March 14-20.
Federer is an eight-times Dubai champion and claimed his 100th tour-level title at the tournament in 2019. He has already decided not to defend his Miami Open title at the March 22-April 4 Masters 1000 event.
The Swiss had targeted a return at last month's Australian Open, but skipped the Grand Slam and said he said he would play in events that would help him regain fitness before Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, there was an even bigger shock in the last eight in Doha as US Open champion Dominic Thiem crashed out with Roberto Bautista Agut upsetting the top seed 7-6 2-6 6-4.
Additional reporting via Reuters
ATP Washington, DC
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