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Roger Federer Begins in Doha Tennis • Evans or Chardy, Opposite Thiem and Rublev in the Draw

Roger Federer will face either Jeremy Chardy or Dan Evans in his Doha opener that will be his first ATP match in 13 months.

By Ricky Dimon

For the first time since January of 2020, Roger Federer is officially in an ATP tournament draw.

The Qatar ExxonMobil Open draw ceremony was held on Saturday, the same day Federer practiced in Doha for the first time after arriving on Friday night. Seeded second, the 39-year-old was always going to avoid top seed Dominic Thiem in the bracket–but additional good news is that No. 3 Andrey Rublev is in the top half with Thiem as opposed to the bottom half with Federer.

Following a first-round bye, the Swiss will begin his comeback against either Dan Evans or Jeremy Chardy. He could face either Borna Coric or John Millman in the quarterfinals before potentially running into Denis Shapovalov or David Goffin in the semis.

On the other side, Roberto Bautista Agut and Stan Wawrinka round out the seeded contingent along with Thiem and Rublev. Wawrinka and Rublev are on a collision course for the quarters, although Marton Fucsovics and Richard Gasquet could have something to say about that matter. Reilly Opelka, Alexander Bublik, and Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev are potential roadblocks for Thiem and Bautista Agut.

Federer has been preparing fans for his return with several social media posts over the past week, from practices and also before traveling to Doha.

“So he we are, about to take off to fly to Doha,” he said. “It’s been a year since my last travel to any event. You can tell I’m very excited. This may be also a moment where I can thank all the people involved who made this possible. It’s been a long and hard road. I know I’m not at the finish line yet, but it’s good. I feel like I’m in a good place; I’ve been practicing very well. Just really pumped up.

“I hope you guys are going to tune into watch it and I hope I see you again very soon. Take care everybody.”Federer is playing for the first time since the 2020 Australian Open, in which he advanced to the semifinals in dramatic fashion before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. The 20-time Grand Slam champion underwent multiple knee surgeries shortly thereafter to sideline him for the remainder of the year.

A three-time champion in Doha, Federer’s lifetime match record there is 26-3. He lifted the trophy in 2005, 2006, and 2011 before playing the event for the last time–until now–in 2012.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.