It was Roger Federer, but not as we know him, at Wimbledon on Monday as the Swiss escaped from the brink of defeat after being run ragged by a Colombian firebrand playing the match of his life on Centre Court.
Alejandro Falla was expected to be cannon fodder, an obliging hitting partner, as the top seed oiled his wheels at the start of a challenge for a record-equalling seventh men’s singles title here but he almost scored one of the greatest shocks ever seen on the famous strip of turf.
Falla, ranked 60th in the world rankings, blazed through the opening two sets and served for glory in the fourth. The records will show that Federer eventually prevailed 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-0 but the 26-year-old Falla played with courage, skill and power before collapsing in the decider when he realised his dream had died.
“I definitely got very lucky out there,” a shaken-looking Federer said as he came off court. “I have lost many matches this year which I should have won; this is one I should have lost but I came through. But that is sometimes how grass court tennis works.”