Nine-time champion Roger Federer played steadily enough to start his grass-court season on Tuesday at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle.
The 37-year-old Swiss avenged his 2018 US Open fourth-round loss to John Millman to make the second round in Germany, beating the Aussie 7-6(1), 6-3.
“I always think any way you get through is a good way because the next match will always feel different,” Federer said.
He didn't face a break point until he served for the match, and he saw only two on Millman's racquet, both in the sixth game of the second set, when Millman hit a forehand off his back foot long to give Federer the break. The top seed fell behind 0/30 in the next game but escaped danger by winning four straight points.
“I think with... John having beaten me at the US Open, I knew it was going be tough. So thankfully I wasn’t too nervous. I think I had a clear game plan. I knew that it was going to be more difficult for him to dominate the baseline... Conditions are faster here so I’m able to control the tempo of the match a little bit more,” Federer said.
The 101-time tour-level titlist is making his 17th Halle appearance and is trying to secure his first double-digit title haul at a single event. He has also won nine titles at the Swiss Indoors Basel, his hometown tournament. Rafael Nadal is the only man in the Open Era to reach double-digit titles at a single event, with 12 Roland Garros titles and 11 trophies in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.
Federer will next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat countryman Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5 to improve to 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Federer leads his rivalry with Tsonga 11-6, but the Frenchman has won their past two matchups – at 2016 Monte-Carlo and 2014 Canada. The two have played on grass only once, a five-set win for Tsonga in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff picked up his first win at his home ATP 500 tournament (1-6), beating Serbian Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-4. Struff, playing at a career-high No. 35 in the ATP Rankings, improved to 22-14 this season and will next meet third-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov.
France's Richard Gasquet, a three-time grass-court titlist, won 81 per cent of his service points and beat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4 in only 70 minutes. Gasquet will next play seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard didn't face a break point and beat American Taylor Fritz 7-6(10), 6-0