Federer stutters in Dubai at start of bid for 100th title
Former world number one Roger Federer launched his latest quest for a 100th career title with a three set win over fellow veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Federer, 37, beat the 35-year-old German 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to advance to a second round clash with Fernado Verdasco at the Dubai Championships.
"I'm just happy to get through, it was tricky conditions out there," said Federer who won his 99th title in Basel in October 2018.
Since then he has played at the Paris Masters, the ATP finals in London and the Australian Open.
"Philipp caused me a lot of trouble and we played in swirly conditions. All of a sudden the wind could stop and you could be a break down. That also plays in your head a little bit."
After dropping the second set, Federer, who is seeking an eighth title in Dubai, romped through the decider to record his 14th consecutive win over Kohlschreiber.
The match on centre court at the Aviation Club was Federer's first competitive outing since he lost in the last 16 at the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Before Federer's mid-match troubles, the fourth seed Karen Khachanov and the seventh seed Milos Raonic suffered surprise first round exits.
Khachanov went down in straight sets to Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia.
"I know Karen is not having his best time at this moment," said Basilashvili. "But I also did not have great beginning of the season. I was able to manage my nerves for for the whole match, especially in the windy conditions. It was really tough."
Jan-Lennard Struff accounted for Raonic. The Canadian served 15 aces but Struff edged him out 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.