Roger Federer overcame rust and 18-year-old Taylor Fritz in his first match in about a month, and his first match in Stuttgart, moving into the quarterfinals at the 2016 Mercedes Cup. The Swiss maestro lead 4-3 in the first set Wednesday when rain suspended the match and eventually play for the day. Upon returning Thursday afternoon, Federer took the opening set 6-4. The young American held his composure and surprised many in winning the second set, as well as staying even deep into the third set.
The 34-year-old Swiss broke at 4-all from down 40-15, and then comfortably served out the match, whipping a backhand winner cross court for a 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory. It is just his twelfth victory in 2016, a season with inconsistent play due to knee surgery and a back issue.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Federer. “I thought Fritz had some good moments there. He gained control of the baseline, he had a little bit of an upper-hand at times. He served well and I was a little bit cautious, unsure of how to move and questioning my defence. These are the things I will need to iron out.”
“I can take a lot of confidence out of this match. I need to improve a few things, but I served big and I was able to handle three sets over two days, and find some energy at the end of the match. I know I have an extra gear. My next goal is to stretch leads – once I get a lead, I need to know that I can protect it and then take the next step.”
The win draws Federer level with Ivan Lendl at 1,071 career wins, second most all-time. The Swiss will face Florian Mayer in Friday’s quarterfinals, not before 2:00 p.m. local time.