Roger Federer returned to the Hopman Cup in 2017, representing Switzerland alongside Belinda Bencic and winning two titles in 2018 and 2019 after thrilling victories over Germany. Last year marked the last edition of the famous team competition.
Federer didn’t love the ATP Cup at the start of 2020, skipping the inaugural ATP event and heading to Melbourne without a match on his feet. The Swiss faced Steve Johnson in his first meeting at the 21st Australian Open and expectations were relatively low ahead of the first clash of the season.
Unlike his main rivals, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stefano Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, Roger took a different path and stayed at home in Dubai. Competing for a seventh Australian Open title 16 years after his first, Roger admitted he was in a tough spot ahead of the first duel against the challenger who claimed a Challenger title just before Melbourne.
Roger Federer has not played any matches ahead of the 2020 Australian Open.
However, the Swiss were hoping to make the best start and get into a winning streak against more formidable opponents while taking it one match at a time. Federer beat Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in 81 minutes for a perfect start despite his concerns.
Landing 80% of his first serves, Roger fired ten aces and dropped just 12 points behind the opening shot. He avoided a solitary break chance and piled the pressure on the American who couldn’t deal with it. Federer smashed 30 winners and 13 unforced errors, keeping everything under control with serve and forehand and mixing up his game nicely with 25 net rushing.
Pressing hard on the return, Roger won almost half of Johnson’s game points, breaking five from eight chances to keep the laces in his hands and advance to the second round. It was the last Australian Open for Federer, who reached the semifinals and missed the rest of the year with knee problems.
“I’m playing Steve Johnson, by the way, for those who are interested. I don’t know, I thought that’s why I’m in Australia, but that’s okay. Look, it’s just the tough situation right now, playing someone who’s just played a lot this week and is ready to start.
He’s ready to fight and I’m not. I have to make sure I get out of the gates quickly. Practice has been going well. I’ve had plenty of time to set myself up and do what I need to do to get ready, and hopefully that’s enough.
I know it’s a very long road to victory. so I have to take it one match at a time. My expectations are very low,” said Roger Federer.