Roger Federer drops set -- but then cruises in Wimbledon opener

Swiss great survives scare against Harris

By Ravi Ubha, CNN
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Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a forehand in his Men's Singles first round match against Lloyd Harris of South Africa during Day 2 of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 2, 2019, in London.

(CNN) - Roger Federer didn't suffer a shock exit at Wimbledon in his 2019 opener, but the record eight-time champion gave his millions of fans a minor scare when he lost a set against a player who grew up idolizing him -- make that another one.

In his Wimbledon debut world No. 86 Lloyd Harris nabbed the first set against the Swiss great before Federer cruised to victory 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 in front of Britain's Duchess of Cambridge.

But just how rare was dropping a set for Federer at the first hurdle at Wimbledon?

Since 2003, when the Swiss landed his first crown here, it was only the second time. In 2010, he came perilously close to exiting against Colombian left-hander Alejandro Falla.

However, Federer was never in such danger against the lanky 22-year-old South African, who has never won a top-tier grass court match, especially after the trainer appeared for an apparent leg injury ahead of the final set.

Yet the early blemish Tuesday might lead some to wonder whether his deep run on the clay of the French Open last month will cost the soon-to-be 38-year-old later in the fortnight.

He hadn't competed at the French Open since 2015, either through injury or to prepare for Wimbledon.

Speaking of the clay, it was Rafael Nadal -- as usual -- who won at Roland Garros to land an 18th major and close to within two of Federer.

He was the one who beat Federer in the last four in hurricane like winds.

READ: Serena must 'focus' to break records, says tennis great Billie Jean King

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Kyrgios vs. Nadal?

 

Federer and Nadal feature in the same half of the draw at Wimbledon -- they haven't met here since their marathon epic 11 years ago -- but the Spaniard knows who he will face in the second round should he defeat Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita later Tuesday: Nick Kyrgios.

There is certainly no love lost between the pair, with the Australian calling Nadal "super salty" and a bad loser in May.

Kyrgios defeated Nadal at Wimbledon five years ago and then in February in Acapulco after saving three match points.

He progressed in five sets earlier Tuesday against his sometime Davis Cup teammate Jordan Thompson despite winning a mere five points in the fourth set.

He won the key points in the first, third and fifth to prevail 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 7-6 (12-10) 0-6 6-1 in three hours, 26 minutes.

The key moment of the decider came in the opening game, when a reeling Kyrgios fended off a break chance.

Defaulted at the Rome Masters after he had received a game penalty, Kyrgios was relatively muted against Thompson though he did receive a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third set.

So did Thompson, for bouncing his racket.

 

Kerber, Barty through

 

Defending women's champion Angelique Kerber and world No.1 Ashleigh Barty advanced against Tatjana Maria and Zheng Saisai 6-4 6-3 and 6-4 6-2, respectively.

For Barty, it was a 13th consecutive victory, continuing the momentum garnered by opening her grand slam account in Paris and winning in Birmingham on grass -- her favorite surface -- last month.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova also feature in the loaded first quarter of the women's draw and play later Tuesday.

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