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(Reuters) – Roger Federer made a winning return to the grass courts with a hard-fought 7-6(4) 7-5 victory over qualifier Ilya Ivashka at Halle on Monday.

The Swiss has not played a competitive match on grass since his Wimbledon final defeat by Novak Djokovic almost two years ago, but was quickly back in the routine.

It was not vintage Federer as the 39-year-old did not even earn a break point on Ivashka’s serve in the opening set while having to save two on his own delivery.

Ivashka saved a match point at 4-5 in the second set but Federer earned three more at 5-6 and got the job done as his opponent netted a forehand.

Federer, who has played only three tournaments this year as he returns from knee surgery, withdrew from the French Open last week having reached the fourth round, stating that he wanted to prepare for Wimbledon.

He is bidding for an 11th title in Halle.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Nick Macfie)