Roger Federer was sharp but admits he felt tired at times as he marked his eagerly awaited return to action after 14 months with some vintage tennis at the Qatar Open.
The 39-year-old Swiss was pleased to be back said he will not be changing his post-match routine after digging deep to see off Dan Evans 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5.
Federer, who had not played since losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open semi-finals since when he has had two knee operations, encouragingly displayed his trademark silky movement and said the knee had held up during the almost two-and-a-half hour duel.
Asked whether he would be employing any new recovery techniques before his quarter-final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, Federer said he would stick to his usual routine.
“You’re talking to an old-school guy. So I have done one ice bath and I didn’t like it. So I’m not going to do that again,” Federer told reporters.
“I don’t just take painkillers for fun. I only take them when I really have to. Don’t feel like that’s the case tonight.
“I’m going to stretch and take a massage and sleep in and then warm up properly tomorrow.
The 20-times grand slam champion said in the build-up that tennis for him is like riding a bicycle and he impressively jumped straight back into the saddle in Doha, where he is a three-time champion.
Federer and Evans had played some 20 practice sets in the build-up to the tournament, but the real test was how the Swiss would hold up in real match conditions.
The answer was emphatic, despite dropping his first competitive set to the Briton.
“I was able to play how I wanted to play, and that’s a great sign and a feeling to have,” Federer said.
“As the match went on longer I was able to really come to the net more, and take more chances there. That stresses the body more.
“So I was really happy that I was really explosive actually, even though of course I was going in swings of being tired again feeling better again.”
Meanwhile, the others to advance to the last eight along with second-seeded Federer and Basilashvili were top seed Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev the third seed, fourth-seeded Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut and unseeded pair Taylor Fritz and Marton Fucsovics.