Federer staves off Kohlschreiber comeback in Dubai opener
Roger Federer moved into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships thanks to a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday.
The Swiss recovered from losing the second set to cruise through the decider and set up a last-16 meeting with Fernando Verdasco.
Federer, in his first outing since a surprising fourth-round loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open in January, is chasing an eighth title at this event - a crown which would deliver his 100th on the ATP Tour.
Kohlschreiber briefly threatened a first career triumph against the 20-time grand slam champion at the 14th attempt but the second seed proved too strong for the world number 31 in the final set as he advanced to the last 16.
Federer was quickly out of the blocks with a break in the opening game and the set remained on serve thereafter, Kohlschreiber saving the first set point with a backhand volley at the net following a superb rally only for the Swiss to edge ahead via successive aces.
It was Kohlschreiber's turn to make a flying start to the second set, however, racing into a 3-0 lead and even being broken back did not deter the German, who responded to relinquishing his serve by hitting back immediately to go 4-2 up.
And Kohlschreiber showed further resilience in serving out for the set, staving off three break points and smashing his racket on the floor when a net cord went Federer's way before levelling the match courtesy of a clinical forehand winner.
Federer responded by immediately applying pressure on the Kohlschreiber serve at the start of the third, forcing a forehand error that secured a break and a 2-0 lead.
That became 5-1 as a rasping backhand prompted the German to volley wide, and Federer served out to love in the next, sealing victory with an ace down the middle.