Defending champion Roger Federer
came back from the brink as he narrowly avoided becoming the casualty of the
greatest upset in Wimbledon history.
Federer was two sets down to
unheralded Alejandro Falla and the Colombian then served for the match in the
fourth set before losing 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) 6-0.
Only two defending champions had
ever lost in the first round at the All England Club and Federer had to use all
his fighting spirit to avoid becoming the third.
The six-time champion, looking to
equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven this year, was not at his brilliant best
but battled back bravely to progress. Falla, on the other hand, played the
match of his life.
The left-hander more than lived
with Federer from the back of the court, looked a threat when he came to the
net, while his swinging serve out wide to the backhand was a constant problem –
a worrying sign for Federer if he now goes on to meet Rafael Nadal in the
Certainly he seemed to be a
different player from the one who had lost 6-1 6-2 to Federer in Halle less
than a fortnight ago. The first set had seemed destined for a tie-break before
Falla gained a surprise break in the 11th game courtesy of a deep volley.
The man ranked 60th in the world
had served for the first set against the Swiss at the recent French Open only
to choke but that was not the case this time. The crowd on Centre Court
expected Federer to raise his level in the second set but he wasn’t actually
playing that badly.
Falla was having few problems
dealing with Federer’s renowned serve though and the fans really began to sense
an upset when the Colombian broke in the sixth game.