Roger Federer may have been off tour for two months, but the Swiss is showing no signs of rust at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he is through to the quarter-finals after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.
“As the match progressed, I felt better and better,” Federer said. “Once I made the break, I was able to relax a little more. I'm happy with what I did. He's a good player.”
The third-seeded Federer swept past Bautista Agut in 69 minutes, winning 73 per cent of his service points and breaking serve three times. He improved to a 5-0 head-to-head record over Bautista Agut, who has made a strong start in 2016, compiling a 20-7 mark and winning titles in Auckland (d. Sock) and Sofia (d. Troicki).
“As long as I can go into a match feeling alright, then during the match I'm not thinking about it,” said Federer of his recovery from knee surgery. “I'm getting closer to the peak in the sense of maximum movement against the best players on a tough surface.
“I’ll be resting for the next couple of weeks anyway, so even if I get a setback for a couple of days, I can take as much time as I need. I feel like I'm in a great place right now.”
The 34-year-old Federer returned to action at the Monte-Carlo Country Club after being sidelined since the Australian Open, first with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required arthroscopic surgery, then illness in Miami. The Basel native beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets in his opening match and now goes on to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-4.
Federer is a four-time finalist in Monte-Carlo and is looking to add the elusive crown to his collection of 24 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies. The right-hander reached three straight finals from 2006-08, losing to Rafael Nadal, and lost out to countryman Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 title match.