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AFP
May 27, 2019

Federer ends four-year Paris absence with victory

Sports

AFP
May 27, 2019

PARIS: Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday and said he had “missed playing in Paris so much”.

Federer, the 2009 champion in Paris, will face German lucky loser Oscar Otte for a place in the third round. The 20-time major winner hadn’t played the tournament since 2015 when he reached the quarter-finals.

However, on Sunday, it was as if the 37-year-old had never been away as he swept to victory in one hour 41 minutes on a rebuilt and packed Court Philippe Chatrier. It was his 60th successive first round win at a Grand Slam.

“I missed it so much so thanks for the welcome,” said Federer. “I felt great playing on this court. It looks great and attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved. Hopefully I can play here again for my next match.”

Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the world number 73 who made the quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters this year after qualifying. “Two breaks in the first set was very important for me and when I was leading 4-0 I could take more risks, be more aggressive,” said the third seed. “I know that I can play very well on clay and I am very happy to win in straight sets.”

Meanwhile, German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.Wimbledon champion Kerber slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to 18-year-old Potapova who was making her French Open debut. “I had a lot of confidence and I have to thank my coach for that,” said81st-ranked Potapova who hit 28 winners past her German opponent.

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round. The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and retire from her second round tie in Madrid.

“She played really good, I tried my best,” said Kerber who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on a rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier. “I didn’t really have great preparation and I was just happy to get on court to play the match. I didn’t have many expectations coming in.”

Potapova’s first win over a top 10 player gives her a second round clash against either China’s Wang Yafan or Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. “I was just speechless,” Potapova said. “I didn’t know what to say and what to do, but, yes, I was so happy at that moment, and I’m still so happy. I live for this win, for these emotions, for these moments. I’m going to do everything to live it through again and again and again.”

Potapova hammered 28 winners past the flailing Kerber, who had been struggling with a right ankle injury in the build-up to the event.

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