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Federer loses comeback match to Andujar at Geneva Open

May 18, 2021 GMT
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a ball to Pablo Andujar of Spain during their men's second round match, at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tournament in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The matches of the Geneva Open are played in front of 100 spectators due to preventive measure against the spread the coronavirus COVID-19. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a ball to Pablo Andujar of Spain during their men's second round match, at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tournament in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The matches of the Geneva Open are played in front of 100 spectators due to preventive measure against the spread the coronavirus COVID-19. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — Roger Federer lost his comeback match after two months away from tour on Tuesday, falling to Pablo Andujar 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Geneva Open.

His first match on clay in almost two years kept him on court for almost two hours in only his second tournament since the 2020 Australian Open. The past 15 months have included two surgeries on his right knee.

“It (losing) never feels great,” Federer said. “Looking at the long road that I have been on from the comeback, sure it’s rewarding to be back on a tennis court but you know I expect better from myself.”

In the decisive set, the top-seeded Federer forced a service break before Andujar rallied. Federer saved two match points on his own serve, but the third ended with a wayward forehand under pressure on the baseline.

Acknowledging he had not deserved victory at the end, Federer said “there was just not enough happening in my game.”

“I was a bit limited today, I felt, on the court. It is what it is. You just have to accept it and move on,” he said.

Next is the French Open, site of Federer’s most-recent match on clay — a 2019 semifinals loss to Rafael Nadal — before Tuesday’s defeat.

“Roland Garros is not the goal,” said Federer, an eight-time Wimbledon champion who lost an epic final there in 2019 to Novak Djokovic. “The goal is the grass so I still have time.”

The 39-year-old Federer and 35-year-old Andujar were facing each other on tour for the first time, and the Spaniard said Monday he wanted to be able to tell his grandchildren he had played the Swiss great.

Andujar put his hands to his head after clinching victory and exchanged an almost apologetic smile with Federer at the net.

Before going on court, Federer was a spectator for part of the ATP Tour debut of perhaps the best prospect in Swiss men’s tennis since his own rise in the 1990s.

With Federer watching some of the match, 18-year-old Dominic Stephan Stricker beat former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the first round.

Stricker, last year’s French Open junior champion, is ranked 419th. Cilic, who won his only Grand Slam singles title in 2014, is ranked 46th.

The Swiss left-hander had nine aces and no double-faults. He broke Cilic’s serve four times and was broken only twice.

“I was getting nervous,” Stricker said. “It was actually OK until 5-1, 30-love. I was happy to finish it at 6-1 and not serve again.”

Stricker has practiced previously with Federer. His next opponent will be 40th-ranked Marton Fucsovics, who beat Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 7-5, 7-5.

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