The 20-time Grand Slam winner beat British No1 Dan Evans in a hard-fought three set match at the Qatar Open in Doha. The Swiss, returning after a 14-month injury absence, won 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5.
He had not played competitively since January 2020 after undergoing two knee surgeries.
Evergreen Federer is widely regarded as the sport’s GOAT – greatest of all time – but faces fierce contest to maintain his record number of slam wins.
King of Clay Rafael Nadal has also won 20 Grand Slams, while Serb mastermind Novak Djokovic is breathing down their necks with 18 to his name.
But what makes Federer’s career entirely unique – one of many aspects – is his defiance of the aging process as he is set to turn 40 in August.
After winning the quarter final match against Evans, who is ranked No26 in the world, Federer suggested he is still some way off retiring.
It was the 1,243rd win of Federer’s career.
In an ominous warning to the next generation of stars – led by the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas – the eight time Wimbledon winner said the original Big Three had no plans to step back.
Referring to himself, Nadal and Djokovic, he warned: “We will try to stand fast for the longest time possible and will try to increase the number of our titles.”
His return has caused quite a stir on Twitter, with the likes of former British No1 Greg Rusedski writing: “One thing is for sure. Federer definitely is the best 39-year-old tennis player I have ever seen.
“Very impressive in the comeback so far.”
Eleven-time Grand Slam winning Aussie Rod Laver, 82, wrote: “Great to see you back on court @rogerfederer.”
One Twitter user wrote: “What is tennis if not Roger Federer persevering?”
Commentator Rob Koenig wrote: “An Oil painting of a backhand from @rogerfederer to get his first win back…”
Christopher Clarey, NY Times tennis correspondent, wrote: “Decades that Roger Federer has played on the ATP Tour: 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s.”
Mats Wilander, former World No1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion, told L’Equipe: “Roger Federer’s comeback at almost 40 years of age shows the incredible passion that drives him. I have never seen someone who loves tennis as much as he does. Nadal has a passion for competition. Roger, he’s interested in the game of tennis.”