‘I thought I would lose in straight sets’

They're not words one would expect to hear from Roger Federer, but the world number two as admitted he was expecting to make an early exit from the Italian Open.

Federer has struggled with injury and illness since requiring knee surgery after the Australian Open in January, with his scheduled return at the Miami Open in March scuppered by illness. The Swiss was then forced to withdraw from last week's Madrid Open due to a back injury.

After being handed a first-round bye, the 34-year-old faced talented young German Alexander Zverev in the second round Rome on Wednesday, and conceded that he had feared the worst before notching up a 6-3, 7-5 victory.

“I was expecting to lose in straight sets today. That was the mindset going in, so to win in straights is actually a really big surprise to me," he admitted.

"I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow. So, yeah, I mean I hope [I’m going to play a second match]. It’s baby steps right now, So to even think of tomorrow is already a big ask.”

Federer will face 13th seed Dominic Thiem in the third round.

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