Federer returns with solid Monte Carlo win

Roger Federer has eased through his first match in more than two months as the Swiss showed full recovery from February 3 knee surgery with an opening win at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The third seed and four-time finalist rolled past Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 6-4 in 75 minutes on Tuesday, with his only niggle coming as he lost serve while trying to close it out leading a set and 5-2.

The mistake hardly mattered, with Federer finishing up two games later to reach the third round.

Federer has never won the Monte Carlo title, losing his most recent final to French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

He has been out of action for two-and-a-half months and will be likely be composing his spring clay schedule ad hoc with an eye on peaking for a run at a second title at Roland Garros starting in six weeks.

“I think I got what I needed. So we’ll see how I feel tomorrow, tonight, the next day. At this point I’m pretty confident I’ll feel fine,” Federer said.

“Every week that goes by, you feel more confident, more solid.

“I’ve been going full out for three weeks now maybe. I felt really good.”

Second seed Andy Murray lost serve four times as his drop-shot strategy failed to do major damage in a narrow 6-2 4-6 6-3 second-round win over French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

“I’ve definitely been a little bit flat since the Davis Cup (last November),” Murray said.

“I don’t know why. In a lot of my matches, it’s been some good stuff mixed in with some pretty bad stuff. I’m not playing my best.”

Murray has been unsuccessful this season in reaching a peak, and was certainly distracted by the February birth of his daughter.

His American hardcourt tour ended with little success and he is now facing the defence of clay title-winning points from 2015 trophies in Munich and Madrid – his only two honours on the surface.

In first round results, 11th seed David Goffin advanced over Feliciano Lopez 7-5 6-0 while Damir Dzumhur pounded Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2 6-0.

Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas spent almost three and a half hours to defeat Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-4).

German Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated Croatian teenager Borna Coric 6-4 6-4 and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco won the first eight games in a rout of Federico Delbonis 6-0 6-3.

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