January 6, 2017 / 11:50 AM / 10 months ago

Federer signals intent with rout of Gasquet

(Reuters) - Roger Federer overwhelmed Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-4 in under an hour at the Hopman Cup on Friday to signal his return to form following a long injury layoff.

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts during his match against Richard Gasquet of France at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, January 6, 2017. AAP/Tony McDonough/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT.

Returning this week after six months out of action, the Swiss 17-times grand slam champion beat Briton Dan Evans before suffering a three-set loss to German teenager Alexander Zverev at the mixed team event in Perth, Australia.

Federer’s 58-minute masterclass against Frenchman Gasquet in front of more than 13,000 spectators, however, should reassure his fans ahead of the year’s first grand slam at Melbourne Park later this month.

“It was completely different to the previous two (matches),” the 35-year-old said after putting Switzerland 1-0 up against France at the Perth Arena.

”Every opponent makes your life difficult in a different way, trying to make it as hard as possible. Today was great, I had many more swings on the ball...had a bit more time.

”It’s the third match into the year, I started to feel the ball better and better, and just moving around the court better.

“I‘m surprised how I‘m playing already. Could not be more happy right now.”

The former world number one has slipped to 16th in the rankings but was happy with his form against Gasquet who is 18th on the list.

“It’s only the beginning, hopefully many more matches to come. I‘m just very pleased to be on a Centre court. I did enjoy the last six months out, I enjoyed the last 18 years playing, so I’ll stay around for a little bit long, if I can.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond

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