London, England (Sports Network) - Wimbledon champion Roger Federer returned to his beloved Centre Court at the All England Club and nearly left a loser as the Olympic tournament opened Saturday.
Federer claimed his seventh Wimbledon title just three weeks ago by beating Scotland's Andy Murray, but on Saturday was forced to go the distance in an opening-round Olympic win over Colombia's Alejandro Falla.
The top-seeded Swiss superstar was on the verge of a straight-set win, but Falla won the final three games of the second set to force a third -- the Olympics are a best-of-three until the final. Federer, though, managed to prevail and emerged with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 triumph.
Next up for the 16-time Grand Slam champ will be Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who toppled Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5, 6-3.
American John Isner, who played the longest-ever Grand Slam match two years ago at Wimbledon, also advanced with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 triumph over Belgium's Olivier Rochus. The 10th-seeded Isner will next face Tunisia's Malek Jaziri, who moved on with a three-set win over Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu.
There were a couple of upsets on Saturday as sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and 14th-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain were eliminated. Belgium's Steve Darcis pulled off a 6-4, 6-4 win over Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, while Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin knocked out Verdasco in a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) decision.
Seventh-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Argentine veteran David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon finalist. Tipsarevic will next face Germany's Philipp Petzschner, who cruised past Slovakia's Lukas Lacko, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.