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Tennis: Federer struggles in Halle

Roger Federer got his Wimbledon preparations fully underway on the grasscourts of Halle on Thursday, but he looked out of sorts before finally edging Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-2 in a second round tie.

HALLE: Roger Federer got his Wimbledon preparations fully underway on the grasscourts of Halle on Thursday, but he looked out of sorts before finally edging Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-2 in a second round tie.

Playing for the first time since losing to Ernests Gulbis in the last 16 of the French Open, the seven-time former winner of the German tournament started brightly but was soon on the back foot against the improving Sousa.

There were no breaks of serve in the first set and it was Sousa who dominated the tie-break clinching it on his fourth set point.

Federer looked frustrated at times, but the match turned on the seventh game of the second set when Sousa's level suddenly dipped allowing the Swiss great to pounce and secure his first break.

From then on, it was all Federer with a break of serve in the first game of the deciding set sending him safely on his way into the last eight.

"I struggled a bit on return during a set and half," said Federer.

"Afterwards, it was better, more variation on second serve.

"It was slightly frustrating, but important to stay calm. Maybe I got more confidence winning this way than 6-4, 6-4.

"When I came here (Saturday) to start practice it was so so, but now it's better. For me, it doesn't take a lot of time to get used to the grass."

Federer is seeded second in Halle with the top seed being newly-crowned nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal, who gets his tournament underway later on Thursday with a match against Germany's Dustin Brown.

Third seed Milos Raonic of Canada lost on Wednesday 6-4, 6-4 to German wildcard Peter Gojowczyk.

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