WIMBLEDON, England — For Roger Federer, Wimbledon nearly ended at the beginning.
The six-time champion overcame a two-set deficit to avert a monumental first-round upset, beating Alejandro Falla 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-0.
Federer has reached the tournament final each of the past seven years, but Monday he barely survived the traditional opening match on Centre Court as defending champion.
“I live another day,” Federer said. “This one is one I should have lost. That’s sometimes how grass-court tennis works.”
The 60th-ranked Falla had lost all 11 sets in his previous four matches against Federer, but the Colombian played brilliant tennis to take charge of the match. The turnaround came in the fourth set with Falla serving for the match and three points from victory, when Federer broke for only the second time.
Federer played his best after that. It’s the third time in a row he has won after losing the first two sets at a Grand Slam event, but the close call was a new experience in such an early round.