Halle - Roger Federer got his Wimbledon preparations fully underway on the
grasscourts of Halle on Thursday, but he looked out of sorts before
finally edging Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-2 in a second
Playing for the first time since losing to Ernests
Gulbis in the last 16 of the French Open, the six-time former winner of
the German tournament started brightly but was soon on the backfoot
against the improving Sousa.
There were no breaks of serve in the
first set and it was Sousa who dominated the tie-break clinching it on
his fourth set point.
Federer looked frustrated at times, but the
match turned on the seventh game of the second set when Sousa's level
suddenly dipped allowing the Swiss great to pounce and secure his first
From then on it was all Federer with a break of serve in
the first game of the deciding set sending him safely on his way into
the last eight.
"I struggled a bit on return during a set and half," said Federer. "Afterwards, it was better, more variation on second serve.
"It was slightly frustrating, but important to stay calm. Maybe I got more confidence winning this way than 6-4, 6-4.
I came here (Saturday) to start practice it was so so, but now it's
better. For me, it doesn't take a lot of time to get used to the grass."
is seeded second in Halle with the top seed being newly-crowned
nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal, who gets his tournament
underway later on Thursday with a match against Germany's Dustin Brown.
Third seed Milos Raonic of Canada lost on Wednesday 6-4, 6-4 to German wildcard Peter Gojowczyk.