Federer fright gets Wimbledon under way

Updated: Jun 21, 2010, 23:50 PM IST

London: The Wimbledon tennis championships got off to a thrilling start Monday with defending champion Roger Federer surviving a huge shock to go through, while comeback girl Kim Clijsters made a winning return to the All England Club.

The men`s defending champion is always the first out on the pristine grass of Centre Court, but it was far from a gala performance from Swiss top seed Federer, who recovered from two sets down to beat Colombia`s Alejandro Falla.

The world number 60 nearly made Federer only the third men`s title holder to lose in the first round, taking the first two sets and serving for the match at 5-4 up in the fourth.

But the top seed recovered his form to win 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 6-0 and avoid what would have been one of the worst defeats of his career.

"I`ve lost many matches this season I should have won and today I won a match I should have lost. He played incredible," Federer said.

Women`s defending champion Serena Williams will be hoping for a much easier time when the American gets her campaign under way Tuesday against Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Belgian eighth seed Clijsters, who made her first appearance at Wimbledon since reaching the 2006 semi-finals following a spell in retirement, marked her return with a straight sets victory over Italy`s Maria Elena Camerin.

"I was actually pretty nervous leaving the locker room and going out on court again," the US Open champion said.

"I was nervous but also excited to be out here, to be on the new Court 2, I had to find my way to get there. Luckily the security guard knew where we were going, because I actually had no idea.”

"Obviously I can play better. But I think overall I played a good match.”

"I know that if I play my best tennis I can definitely compete with the top players."

Women`s 11th seed Marion Bartoli, 12th seed Nadia Petrova and 21st seed Vera Zvonareva also went through to the second round in straight sets, while 27th seed Maria Kirilenko made it in three sets.

Switzerland`s Patty Schnyder, who was playing her 56th Grand Slam, the most of any player in the women`s draw, lost 6-0, 6-2 to Taiwan`s Chan Yung-Jan, who got the first win of the championships.

British women`s number one Elena Baltacha lost in three sets to Croatia`s Petra Martic in front of her home crowd.

In the men`s draw, 17th seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia was beaten by Poland`s Michal Przysiezny.

French 21st seed Gael Monfils, who won the boys` title here in 2004, went through, as did Spain`s Feliciano Lopez, the 22nd seed, and US Queen`s finalist Mardy Fish.

Bureau Report