The defending champion was forced to mount a courageous comeback against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, having faced numerous match points in the third set. The 28-year-old showed tremendous spirit however, eventually winning 5-7, 4-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-0.
Federer openly admitted that his opponent, ranked 65th in the world, had dominated for large portions of the match. The left-handed Columbian hustled around the court and even managed to disturb the normally efficient Federer backhand.
The stunned centre court crowd appeared unsure how to react to the potential upset. The six-time champion looked rattled, lacking consistency with his serve and hitting wayward unforced errors.
Recent defeats to Robin Soderling in Paris and Lleyton Hewitt in Halle had to many questioning Federer’s form since winning the Australian Open, but the Swiss star insisted he was in good shape for Wimbledon.
However on the evidence of yesterdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s showing, Federer looks fallible. The sight of the out-of-sorts top seed will undoubtedly serve as a source of inspiration for Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.
After losing a closely-fought fourth set Falla surrendered in the final set allowing Federer to secure the match at a canter winning the final six games without response.
Elsewhere, Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko, who had returned to competitive tennis last week after recovering from a fractured wrist, was in action on Court 1.
The reinvigorated seventh seed had his fitness fully tested by South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who clinched the first two sets aided by his intimidating serve.
But Davydenko, renowned for his tenacity, sealed victory in four hours and 18 minutes, 3-6 6-7 7-6 7-5 9-7.
Last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s runner-up Andy Roddick beat compatriot Raajev Ram 6-3 6-2 6-2 and the unpredictable Novak Djokovic finally saw off the menacing threat posed by Belgian, Olivier Rochus.
The match was concluded minutes before 11pm under the Centre Court roof with the third seed Djokovic winning 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
BIOGRAPHY: Kepa Arrizabalaga