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Federer battles, Williams cruises


LONDON — Roger Federer survived a wobble in his opening Olympics singles match on Saturday while fellow Wimbledon champion Serena Williams stormed through to join him in the second round on a day in which several seeded players bowed out.

Top men’s seed Federer of Switzerland made tough work of his first round clash against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, throwing away three match points in a nail-biting second set before eventually prevailing 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Williams — watched by United States first lady Michelle Obama — dispatched Serbian former world number one Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 on a packed Centre Court in just 61 minutes.

“It was great seeing Michelle there. It just made me want to play better and I felt even better.

We’re here for our country and to play well. I loved her dress, which is always nice. She is always looking good,” Williams said after the match.

Federer’s battle captivated the animated crowd, who had to get used to the unfamiliar Wimbledon sight of competitors wearing colours rather than white as well as music blaring from the speakers as the players warmed up.

“I never stopped believing, kept on pushing. Even though he got back a break in the third set, that obviously also got my nerves going because the margins are very small at that point,” said Federer, who now faces France’s Julien Benneteau.

“I’m happy I found a way to tough it out really.”
The first match up on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, where Williams and Federer raised trophies less than three weeks ago, saw men’s sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech republic knocked out 6-4, 6-4 by Belgium’s world number 75 Steve Darcis.

Other first-day upsets saw women’s fifth seed Australian Samantha Stosur lose 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 to Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, while Navarro’s countryman and men’s number 14 seed Fernando Verdasco fell to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-4, 7-6.

China’s 10th seed Li Na was beaten by Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

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