Federer staves off Kohlschreiber comeback in Dubai opener

Losing the second set to Philipp Kohlschreiber proved a minor blip for Roger Federer, who reached the Dubai Tennis Championships last 16.

Roger Federer Dubai Tennis Championships

Roger Federer, who defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday   -  Getty Images

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.

- Federer hoping to end 100-title talk in Dubai -

This Dubai Open represents Federer's fourth chance to bring up the 100-title landmark, having won his 99th in Basel in October, and the Swiss - a seven-time champion in Dubai - hopes to reach his century of titles at the end of this week.

"Hopefully [I will] in a few days' time but I still have a long way to go and I hope I don't have to speak about my 100th title for years or weeks or months to come. I hope it's going to happen here," Federer said in his on-court interview.

"I'm part of the field, it's great, I'm healthy, I'll give myself the best chance. The draw is tough, but it's a great event and thanks for coming out and I hope I can win it here in Dubai so we'll see what happens.

"I've had a very successful run here in the past, some good and some also not so good, that's how sport is.

"Philipp has caused me a lot of trouble today, he played very well in swirly conditions so I'm very relieved and happy to be back in Dubai and hope I can keep going.

"At the end of the day it's the result that mattered. I have to find a way to win, I haven't played since the Australian Open so that makes it a little more tricky."

Federer's victory saw him extend his head-to-head record over Kohlschreiber to 14-0, and the Swiss was in no mood to offer the German - or anyone - tips on how to defeat him.

"I'm not so sure I would say it anyway, it has to remain a secret or I'll be out of the game very quickly!" He added.