London, July 2: Roger Federer had to come from a set down against Lloyd Harris to commence his record-breaking 21st Wimbledon campaign with a victory on Centre Court on Tuesday.
Harris, ranked 86th in the world and making his main-draw debut at this slam, became the first player since Alejandro Falla in 2010 to deny Federer the opening set of a first-round match at the All England Club, but the eight-time champion ended up surging to a 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 triumph.
The rangy South African's confident start suggested an upset could be on the cards.
However, he was unable to build on it and, as he struggled with a left calf issue, the classy Federer stormed into round two in an hour and 50 minutes.
Harris served well and had a chance to break when the Swiss went long with a backhand in game six - another error from the second seed converted it for him.
A stunning cross-court forehand winner stopped Federer getting back on serve and the 37-year-old found himself a set down when his backhand flew beyond the baseline.
Federer produced a clever drop shot before moving 3-1 up in the second and he followed a lovely backhand slice with a volley at the net for three break points in game six.
Harris failed to keep him at bay when he sent a routine forehand into the net and he was a break down in the third after Federer smashed his scooped half-volley past him.
The 22-year-old saved a pair of break points before succumbing due to a wide forehand down the line and he took a medical time-out after his opponent closed out the third set.
There was no stopping Federer and a trademark one-handed backhand enabled him to win against the serve in game three of the fourth.
A searing cross-court forehand – his 40th winner of the match – preceded a second break for Federer, who ended up enjoying routine passage into the second round.
STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Roger Federer bt Lloyd Harris 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2
WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS Federer – 42/14 Harris – 17/27
ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS Federer – 9/1 Harris – 5/3
BREAK POINTS WON Federer – 6/12 Harris – 1/1
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE Federer – 56 Harris – 60
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE Federer – 80/79 Harris – 63/45
TOTAL POINTS Federer – 106 Harris – 71