Roger Federer has become accustomed to giving the crowd value for money when facing Alejandro Falla on Centre Court at the All England Club.
Not that he would like it that way.
Having survived a three-hour-plus marathon against the Colombian leftie in the first round at Wimbledon back in 2010, Federer again had to do it the hard way, posting a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 triumph in Round 1 Olympic play.
This time, however, it was the London 2012 top seed who almost let a winning lead from his grasp.
After securing the first set 6-3 in 33 minutes games went with serve to 3-all in the second set before a toddler in the crowd decided they’d had enough of Centre Court action for the day.
The umpire drew laughter when he politely asked the crying child for quiet and while the noise seemed to disturb Falla, it did little to curb the concentration of Federer, used to the sound of his own twin toddlers.
He went on to break the Falla serve and held on the back of a brilliant chipped backhand drop-shot winner and another off the forehand side for 5-3.
Up a set and a break, Falla soon found himself down three match points on serve, his Olympic singles campaign seemingly destined for a straight sets drubbing.
A purple path of six straight points though allowed the Colombian to hold serve and put pressure on the top seed as he attempted to serve it out.
The frustration of three missed opportunities clearly weighed on Federer.
He dropped serve, bringing the crowd roaring to life as Falla levelled at 5-5.
For the second service game in succession Falla fought back from 0-40 to hold serve before a shanked forehand from a rattled Federer handed him the second set 7-5.
"Things were looking great today. I got all the match points I want. I'm serving for the match. He got tough and I got nervous. So, you know, it was a tough set to lose for me, particularly in the situation I was in, feeling good and confident about me serving it out," Federer said.
"The beauty of this game. Sometimes you're one point away, the next thing you're 25 points away. That made things difficult on my mind."
A break at 4-3 in the deciding set and Federer could once more sense the finish line. A cat-and-mouse point at net had the crowd standing after the Swiss ended it with a commanding smash.
Moments later, the crowd would rise once more – a standing ovation as both players left the court, Federer the victor in a high-quality tussle after an hour and 47 minutes.
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