Roger Federer returned to the Hopman Cup in 2017, representing Switzerland alongside Belinda Bencic and winning two titles in 2018 and 2019 after thrilling wins over Germany. Last year marked the last edition of the famous team competition.
Federer disliked the ATP Cup in early 2020, skipping the ATP’s inaugural event and heading to Melbourne with no leg matches. The Swiss faced Steve Johnson in their first encounter at the 21st Australian Open, and his expectations were relatively low ahead of the season’s first match.
Unlike his main rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, Roger took a different path and stayed at home in Dubai. Fighting for a seventh Australian Open title 16 years after his first, Roger admitted he was in a tight spot ahead of his first duel against title-winning Challenger rivals just before Melbourne.
Roger Federer did not play before the 2020 Australian Open.
Still, the Swiss hoped to make the best start and get on the winning streak ahead of more formidable opponents, taking one game at a time. Federer beat Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in 81 minutes for a perfect start despite his worries.
Landing 80% of the first serve, Roger fired ten aces and dropped just 12 points behind the opening shot. He avoided a lone chance of breaking and mounted the pressure on the American who couldn’t handle it. Federer hit 30 wins and 13 unforced misses, keeping everything in check with serve and forehand and mixing his game well with 25 runs at the net.
Pushing hard on the comeback, Roger took nearly half the points in Johnson’s games, delivering five breaks out of eight opportunities to hold the ropes in his hands and march into the second round. It was Federer’s last Australian Open, reaching the semi-finals and missing the rest of the year with knee problems.
“I’m playing Steve Johnson, by the way, for those who care. I don’t know; I figured that’s why I’m in Australia, but that’s okay. Look, it’s precisely the sticky situation right now, playing someone who has just played a lot. this week and it’s ready to go.
He’s ready to play, and I’m not. I have to make sure I get out of the gates quickly. The practice is going well; I had a lot of time to control myself and do everything I had to do to prepare myself, and I hope that’s enough.
I know it’s a super long road to victory; that’s why i have to take one game at a time. My expectations are pretty low,” said Roger Federer.