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As if he never left. Roger Federer made a smooth return to the ATP World Tour with a straight sets victory over tricky opponent Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. The Swiss maestro, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in early February, had not played since the Australian Open in January. After skipping Rotterdam, Dubai, and Indian Wells, the 34-year-old Swiss took a late entry into the Miami Open, yet was forced to withdraw due to a stomach virus.

With plenty of practice hours put in the last several weeks, Federer showed very little if no signs of rust Tuesday afternoon in Monaco. Upon jumping ahead with the break at 4-2, the Swiss comfortably saved a break point with a vicious backhand down the line which dipped in for a winner.

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After taking the first set, Federer began to cruise. Finding his range all around the court, the 17-time grand slam champion displayed wide variety with his backhand and proved his speed is still top notch, chasing down drop shots with ease. In 1 hour 14 minutes, Federer defeated Garcia-Lopez 6-3 6-4, winning 74% of points on his first serve and 63% of points on his second serve. He finished 13/24 at net and converted 3/4 break point opportunities.

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“The knee felt really good, like in practice. Felt like I didn’t have to worry about it. I could just go freely,” Federer said. “I think in a way it was a perfect match. It was close in the beginning, then I was able to go on a roll. Points were cut short by virtue of me serving better and returning better, getting second serves, taking advantage of that fact. At the end, again, I had to fight for it. I went through different phases in the match. Also emotionally, I was excited and tense in the beginning, just because it’s a first round. It’s my first match back. So it was nice to go through all these emotions.”

Federer paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, showcasing his special ‘Mamba Day’ kicks on court. ‘4.13.16’ marks Bryant’s final game before he retires from the NBA on Wednesday night.

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Source: ATP World Tour

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