Swiss star Roger Federer admits he was both relieved and sad after making a hot return from injury at the Hopman Cup in Perth on Monday night.
Federer entered the mixed-teams tournament thinking he might be a tad rusty after spending the previous six months sidelined with a knee injury.
But the 17-time grand slam winner cracked a series of stunning winners to secure a 6-3 6-4 win in just 61 minutes over Great Britain’s Dan Evans.
Switzerland secured the tie win when Belinda Bencic beat Heather Watson 7-5 3-6 6-2 in the women’s singles rubber.
Federer was overcome with emotion when he received a standing ovation from the Perth Arena crowd as he made his way to the court.
He was pleasantly surprised by how well he played.
But the short taste of competitive tennis wasn’t enough to satiate his hunger.
“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.
“I was actually quite emotional. When I walked down, I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is better than I thought it would be’.
“It felt good putting the match shirt back on, and serving first, and then trying to serve it out at the end.
“They’re the moments I miss the most, even though those are the ones that make you nervous.
“That’s what you play tennis for. I thought for a first match it was great, because my expectations were obviously quite low.”
Federer first injured his left knee while preparing a bath for his twin daughters early last year.
He reluctantly underwent surgery, and then took a six-month break from the ATP tour after Wimbledon in order to heal the injury completely.
Federer didn’t look hindered one bit in his opening tie at the Hopman Cup, even leaping high into the air to smash a winner in the second set.
The 35-year-old wants to keep playing for another two or three years, and said he wasn’t troubled by his knee one bit on Monday night.
“For three or four weeks now I’ve stopped thinking of it, because I don’t have any reactions anymore,” Federer said.
“I don’t have any pain. It’s been nice that I was able to get rid of that early.”
Although Federer unleashed the occasional shank against Evans, he also produced a series of stunning winners.
He also showcased his trademark class, offering some kind words to a lineswoman after she got struck in the head by an Evans ace.