Federer wins first match on return; France beats Germany
PERTH, Australia (AP) Roger Federer returned from six months on the sidelines with a knee injury to beat Dan Evans 6-3, 6-4 on Monday and lead Switzerland to an opening win over Britain at the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament.
The 17-time major winner missed the French Open last year, ending a run of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, and hadn't played competitively since re-injuring his surgically repaired left knee at Wimbledon in July. But he showed no signs of rust in his 61-minute win over Evans.
''I'd like to live it again. I'm a little bit sad it's over, because it was so nice out there,'' Federer said of his return. ''I was actually quite emotional. When I walked down, I was like, `Oh my God, this is better than I thought it would be.'''
The 35-year-old Federer said it was the kind of feeling he missed the most while he was sidelined.
''I thought for a first match it was great, because my expectations were obviously quite low.''
Belinda Benic held off Heather Watson 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 later Monday to give Switzerland an unbeatable 2-0 lead ahead of the mixed doubles match.
Federer said he's looking for as many matches as possible in Perth ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne. He hasn't won a Grand Slam title since 2012 at Wimbledon, and hasn't won the Australian Open title since 2010, but hasn't given up hope of extending his record in the majors.
''After all these years, it would be nice to win another one - of course I'd even take two or three or four,'' he said. ''We'll see. It's tough at the top. A lot of good guys out there right now. I'll give it a chance, and see what happens.''
Federer said he'd spent plenty of time on conditioning during his break from the game and felt pain free.
''I don't have any pain,'' he said. ''It's been nice that I was able to get rid of that early.''
Switzerland is set to play Germany on Wednesday and France on Friday, with the winning team in Group A qualifying for Saturday's final.
France beat Germany 2-1 earlier Monday, with Richard Gasquet defeating Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-3 and combining with Kristina Mladenovic to win the deciding mixed doubles, which is being played in the Fast4 format, 4-2, 4-1. Andrea Petkovic had earlier beaten Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1 in the women's singles.