Former world No 1 needed just 95 minutes to win his first match at a major since the 2020 Australian Open
Knee injuries and surgeries have plagued the former world No 1 over the past two seasons, forcing the 39-year-old to be extremely selective with his time on court.
Federer’s 2020 Australian Open campaign was followed by a 14-month absence from tennis, his return coming this March at the Qatar Open.
Monday’s clash with Istomin at Roland Garros represented the Swiss’ first outing at a major since his semi-final run in Melbourne, and it was a successful one for Federer, who was a 6-2 6-4 6-3 winner on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Twenty-time Slam champion Federer has admitted that his expectations for the coming fortnight in Paris are low, given his lack of court time and his defeat by Pablo Andujar in Geneva last week.
Federer’s focus is instead on the upcoming grass-court season, but he will nevertheless take encouragement from the manner of his win over 34-year-old Istomin, whom he dispatched in just one hour and 35 minutes without surrendering a break of serve.
In the second round, Federer will play either Arthur Rinderknech of France or Marin Cilic, whom the Swiss beat in the 2017 Wimbledon and 2018 Australian Open finals.
Elsewhere in the men’s singles draw, Daniil Medvedev finally achieved a first-round win at Roland Garros by defeating Alexander Bublik in straight sets.
Medvedev won last year’s ATP Finals between his first two Slam finals, which came at the US Open and Australian Open.
All three tournaments are contested on hard courts, where Medvedev is most comfortable, whereas the Russian has struggled on the French Open’s clay surface.
On Monday, however, the 25-year-old finally advanced past the first round with his 6-3 6-3 7-5 win against Bublik.