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Page last updated at 18:28 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 19:28 UK

Wimbledon 2010: Roger Federer made to struggle again

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
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Federer pleased with form and fitness

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Defending champion Roger Federer endured another surprisingly arduous afternoon at Wimbledon before taking his place in the third round.

The top seed defeated Serbian qualifier Ilija Bozoljac 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) on Court One, but not without a few scares along the way.

Having flirted with defeat against Alejandro Falla, the top seed encountered another inspired opponent.

But the top seed's class told in the end as he came through in four sets.

Federer will face Arnaud Clement of France in the third round on Friday, when he will surely hope to avoid any of the drama that has accompanied his opening two matches.

The entertaining and engaging Bozoljac won a new army of fans on Court One, which rose to applaud the efforts of both players after Federer's win.

"It was a tough match," Federer told BBC Sport. "He was playing really well. I've never played him before so that was difficult and I thought he served incredibly, especially at key moments.

"Both my opponents played great matches, but the good sign is I came through them. I wish they were straight sets but as long as you're moving on, I'm a happy man."

While Falla was a recognisable name who had tested Federer at the French Open, Bozoljac was unknown to all but the most ardent tennis fans.

606: DEBATE

The Serb qualifier was playing at Wimbledon for only the second time, and his first-round win over Nicolas Massu had been only his fourth victory at Grand Slam level.

"It just shows how deep men's game is," added Federer. "I always think players play better against me because they have nothing to lose - maybe people will start to realise that today."

That was certainly true of Bozoljac, who thrived on the challenge of playing the six-time champion and revelled in his surroundings on Court One.

The crowd, in turn, warmed to his bold and unorthodox style.

Federer, too, appeared to enjoy the challenge presented by Bozoljac's swinging serves and double-handed groundstrokes off both wings - at least initially.

The defending champion had already seen four break points slip by when he earned three more at 3-3 in the first set, taking the first with an assured volley into the open court.

Federer sealed the set when his passing shot flicked the net and dropped dead.

That raised a smile from both players, but Federer's relaxed demeanour did not last long as Bozoljac warmed to his task.

The 6ft 4in Serb, who fired down a total of 31 aces, did not face a single break point in the second set and it was Federer who blinked first in the tie-break.

The Swiss's forehand let him down and given two serves to take the set, Bozoljac sent down a huge first serve which flicked off the frame of Federer's racquet before the top seed sprayed a backhand into the trams.

Federer appeared to have reasserted his authority when he broke once to take the third set, but where once the world number two might have used the momentum to roll onwards towards victory, the uncertainty returned.

Trailing 3-2 in the fourth set, the 16-time Grand Slam champion had to save three break points before finally sealing the game with a magnificent forehand pass, a flash of the real Federer.

The world number two squeaked through the tie-break, taking his first match point when Bozoljac hooked a forehand long.

The Serb extended his stay on Court One by challenging the call, as both players chatted at the net.

"I asked him what kind of drink he wanted later," joked Federer.

"No, I said, 'I think the ball's out, I really do'. And he said, 'Well if it is, I wish you all the best, keep on winning'. And I just said 'well let's wait for the call first'.

"He seems like a very nice guy, very open and very cool. It was an unconventional finish, but it was nice."



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