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By Kylie MacLellan
LONDON, July 28 World number one Roger Federer
survived a scare in his opening Olympics singles match against
Colombia's Alejandro Falla before prevailing 6-3 5-7 6-3 on a
packed Wimbledon Centre Court to book his place in the second
The 17-time grand slam winner and top seed, seeking his
first singles gold medal, had three match points in the second
set but then suddenly crumbled, hitting shot after shot into the
The tense battle revived memories of the pair's first round
clash at Wimbledon in 2010, when Federer recovered from two sets
down to beat the gritty Colombian.
"I've struggled against him in the past at times," Federer
told reporters after the match.
"All of a sudden I missed the match points, things got
difficult and he played a great match to come back, so I'm
relieved of course. Falla is a great player, counter-punches
well, plays really well and made things really difficult for
Returning to Centre Court less than three weeks after
winning his seventh Wimbledon title there, Federer made a solid
start, breaking his opponent to secure the first set 6-3.
The second set began in a similar vein, and at 5-3 Federer
looked on track to wrap up the win. But a string of errors saw
Falla seize the opportunity to fight back, saving three match
points and breaking the 30-year-old twice to take the set and
force a decider.
Normal service appeared to be resumed on the sun-drenched
court at the start of the third set, as the Swiss broke his
opponent in the opening game. But the world number 51 swiftly
broke back to level at 2-2.
Federer, who won doubles gold in Beijing with Stanislas
Wawrinka, broke again to go 4-3 up, then held serve to force
Falla to serve to stay in the match.
Buoyed by chants of "Let's go Roger, let's go", Federer
didn't let the chance slip away from him this time, looking
decidedly relieved to secure his victory.
In the next round, Federer will meet Julien Benneteau who he
narrowly beat in the third round of Wimbledon this year after
losing the first two sets to his French opponent.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Justin Palmer)