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Roger Federer wins Halle opener on return to grass

ATP Tournament in Halle

14 June 2021, North Rhine-Westphalia, Halle: Tennis: ATP Tour singles, men, 1st round, Ivashka (Belarus) - Federer (Switzerland). Roger Federer hits a forehand ball. Photo: Friso Gentsch/dpa (Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

HALLE, Germany -- Roger Federer returned to the court with a win over qualifier Ilya Ivashka as the Swiss player chases his 11th Halle Open title after withdrawing from the French Open to prioritize the grass-court season.

Federer held serve throughout in a 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over his Belarusian opponent but didn’t break until the last game of the match. Federer is now 69-7 in career matches in Halle, his favored warmup for Wimbledon. Five of his eight career Wimbledon titles have come after winning Halle the same year.

Federer pulled out of the French Open after the third round last week, saying he wanted to look after his fitness following two knee operations.

He moves on to play either up-and-coming Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or big-hitting Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the second round.

Also Monday, Sebastian Korda of the United States upset sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 7-6 (0) despite being ranked 42 places below his Spanish opponent at 52nd. That extended Bautista Agut’s slump after a surprise second-round loss to Henri Laaksonen at the French Open.

Seventh-seeded David Goffin retired against Corentin Moutet in their first-round match after having been close to victory. Goffin fell in the second set but still served for the match at 6-1, 5-3 before losing the next four games and retiring at the end of the set with the score level at 6-1, 5-7.

U.S. qualifier Marcos Giron beat Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6) and Australian Jordan Thompson saw off local wild card Daniel Altmaier 6-2, 7-6 (4).