For the first half of the match, everything went according to script with Federer’s easy-going efficiency. Then trouble struck, and the match was on.
Perhaps a bizarre foreshadowing was cast with the Olympics feel to the match. Gone was the traditional Wimbledon white attire in a match that looked like Red Swiss Nike vs. Golden Yellow Babolat.
The match had a feel of a Masters 1000 tournament with its best-of-three format, and the action unfolded quickly
In the first set, Federer cruised behind a solid serve and dictated pace with his forehand. His 6-3 win featured 16 winners against five unforced errors, while Falla had four apiece. Federer also capitalized on his only break chance.
Federer continued to roll into the seventh game of the second set. At 15-15, Federer stepped into a backhand and hit a clean cross-court winner that emphasized the completeness to a so-far efficient day. He went on and completed the break.
But at 5-3, Federer wobbled in closing out the match. Falla scrapped back to hold and looked visibly rejuvenated.
Falla then stormed out to a 15-40 lead in the next game. He was still scrambling further behind the baseline, but found an opportunity to come in on a couple of Federer’s short balls.
Suddenly the momentum changed and Falla was slicing his backhand, scurrying and clawing his way with every point. Federer began to pile up errors and there was a nervousness about his game. He tried to hit quick forehand and backhand winners and seemed reluctant to patiently slice or extend points with the resurgent Colombian.
Falla broke again and stormed off with a shocking 7-5 second set victory. Federer only capitalized on one of seven break points while Falla was more opportunistic with two of three.
As usual, Federer’s struggle was framed by 14 unforced errors in the set.
Federer opened the third set by removing the pressure with an immediate break. His focus was back and he hopped with greater energy on his split steps and between points.
But Falla contined to fight back. He held serve in the third game and came back with another big break to level things again.
The pressure was mounting for Federer. Even when he played a good point, Falla stayed in. At 30-15, Falla kept pounding the Federer backhand as if he had studied the Rafael Nadal formula for success. Federer found a chance to come to net, but Falla ripped a corner to corner pass with his backhand that signaled his determination to fight to the end. He held again.
Federer struck back in the seventh game of the decisive set with two break point opportunities, the second one a winner as he turned Falla around with a forehand winner.
From then on, Federer held on to his lead and ended the match with another break and a 6-3 win. The third set was well played by both players. Federer had 13 winners and seven unforced errors while Falla was eight and two.
Up next for Federer is France’s Julien Benneteau who took Federer to five sets in Wimbledon's third round.