Roger Federer. Picture: REUTERS
Roger Federer. Picture: REUTERS

Stuttgart — Roger Federer was made to battle after a losing first set as he made his long-awaited return to tennis on Wednesday with a 3-6 6-4 6-2 defeat of Mischa Zverev at the Stuttgart Cup.

The world No2 shook off the rust against his German opponent after a poor start, breaking twice in the second and third sets to earn victory in 93min.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner can displace Rafael Nadal from the world’s top-ranking spot if he reaches Sunday’s final.

The 36-year-old finished to the cheers of a sold-out centre court on a chilly day.

Federer lost the first set to Zverev, older brother of world No3 Alexander Zverev, but quickly recovered to post his sixth win in as many meetings in the series.

The Swiss was playing his first match in nearly three months after skipping the spring clay court season in order to fully concentrate on his grass preparation.