Welcome back, Roger Federer. After two knee surgeries and 14 months away from tennis, Federer picked up where he left off with a thrilling 7-6 (8), 3-6, 7-5, victory over Dan Evans. Aside from a brief lapse early in the second set, Wednesday’s performance was as good as Federer fans could have possibly hoped. Next up for the Swiss is arguably the most beatable player in the Top 50: Nikoloz Basilashvili.

It’s a dream quarterfinal match-up for Federer, as the Georgian is an abysmal 4-11 in his last 15 matches. Despite his lack of match play, the oddsmakers aren’t taking any chances on Thursday, and list Federer as a massive -740 favorite over the world No. 42.

Evans was an extremely tough test for Federer, and they share a similar game style. The only problem is Federer is just a bit better at everything, especially on serve. Evans had chances in the third, but squandered his opportunities with passive tennis. His next opponent won't make that same mistake on Thursday, but will the ball-bashing Basilashvili keep it in the court? Probably not.

Perhaps the most surprising wrinkle to Federer’s return to court was how well he struck his topspin backhand. Given time, his forehand will return to top form, but the backhand won him this match in several different ways. His chip return didn’t miss a beat, forcing Evans to make difficult decisions early in the rally.

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The Pick: Roger Federer vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Doha quarterfinal

His slice was superb, but his topspin backhand was better than anyone could have expected, hit with aggression and conviction throughout.

The Pick: Roger Federer vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Doha quarterfinal

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It was vintage Fed on match point, knifing a slice return and ripping a gorgeous one-hander for a clean winner.

The Pick: Roger Federer vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Doha quarterfinal

Basilashvili has shown signs of life in Doha, beating a tough opponent in John Millman on Tuesday and dismantling Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-2, on Wednesday. Known as a streaky player, the pendulum may be shifting in the right direction.

We have yet to see how Federer’s knee will hold up after a lengthy match, but it likely won’t matter in the short term, as his opponent has been one of the worst players in the ATP’s Top 100 this season. The only pick with decent return is to take Federer to win in straight sets at -220, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.

The Pick: Roger Federer in straight sets

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The Pick: Roger Federer vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Doha quarterfinal

The Pick: Roger Federer vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Doha quarterfinal