BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Roger Federer made a winning return from a six-week break, beating Potito Starace of Italy 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of his hometown Swiss Indoors event Monday.
The fourth-ranked Federer took time to find the rhythm in his ground strokes, and saved a break point at 5-all before winning the first-set tiebreaker comfortably.
The 30-year-old Swiss then broke the 54th-ranked Starace’s serve in the opening game of the second.
Federer last played on Sept. 18 in a Davis Cup match on grass in Australia where he beat Bernard Tomic in four sets.
After opting to rest and recharge, Federer played his first match ranked outside the top three since winning the 2003 Wimbledon title as the No. 5.
Federer came in with a 5-0 career record against Starace, but was unable to put pressure on the Italian right-hander’s serve in the first set.
Starace had the only break point in the set which Federer saved with a forehand winner.
Federer converted his first set point in the tiebreaker by hitting a forehand winner down the line.
Leading 5-3 in the second, Federer earned a first match point with an overhead backhand volley winner, but then netted a service return.
He clinched the match in the next game with a service winner.
Earlier, Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus rallied to beat eighth-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2.
Donald Young of the United States got a wild-card entry and faced Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the late match.
Kukushkin was promoted as a lucky loser after 30th-ranked Jurgen Melzer of Austria pulled out due to a season-ending back injury.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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