Eight-time Halle Champion Roger Federer roared back to life after his shocking first-round defeat in Stuttgart last week with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Yuichi Sugita of Japan in the opening round of the Gerry Weber Open on Tuesday.
Federer, who was upset by German veteran Tommy Haas on his return from a two-month break last Wednesday, hit eight aces and converted five of his 13 break opportunities to beat the 66th-ranked Sugita in 52 minutes.
Sugita, who lost in the qualifiers, was playing in place of Lu Yen-hsun, who withdrew earlier with a right arm injury.
Federer, an eight-time champion in Halle, continues his bid for his 16th grass-court title against Germany’s Mischa Zverev, who beat Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4.
The win over Sugita was Federer’s first since early April when he skipped the clay-court season to recuperate from a busy start to the year that included his 18th Grand Slam at the Australian Open. The 35-year-old Swiss won the Miami Open and took a break.
Kei Nishikori toiled for his opening grass-court victory of the year, beating Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4.
The third-seeded Japanese player saved nine of the 10 break points he faced to win in under 2 1/2 hours for a second-round meeting against Karen Khachanov of Russia.
Khachanov defeated Gilles Simon of France 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3.
The fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, Mischa Zverev’s younger brother, had no problems against Paolo Lorenzi, winning 6-3, 6-2 in just under an hour.
Haas’ final appearance at the tournament was brief as he lost to Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-4. The 39-year-old Haas, who made his Halle debut 20 years ago and won it twice, plans to retire at the end of the season.
The sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille of France rallied to beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut beat Carlos Berlocq 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, Robin Haase defeated David Ferrer 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, and Florian Mayer defeated Benoit Paire 6-0, 6-4.