CONOR NILAND LOST a dramatic five-set match and narrowly missed out on a dream encounter with Roger Federer in the second round of Wimbledon, with a final score of 4-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-4.
It was a tough loss for the Limerick man who at one stage led his opponent, world number 55 Adrian Mannarino, by two breaks in the final set of the match.
It all started well for the Irish player, as Niland took the first set 6-4, breaking Mannarino’s serve in the final game of the set.
The Frenchman responded by winning the second set by the same scoreline in an encounter in which the two players were looking well-matched.
Despite recovering from being a break down, Niland lost the third set on a tie-break and seemed destined to crumble following this significant psychological blow.
Yet the player showed impressive resilience to bring the game back to two sets each by winning the fourth set 6-4.
The final set saw the Irish player twice break his opponent’s serve early on to go 4-1 up, before Mannarino hit back with two breaks of his own to level the set at 4-4. He then held his serve and broke an exhausted Niland in the final game to set up a second round match with six-time Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer after over three hours of play.
Earlier in the day, Federer had recorded a straightforward three-set victory over Mikhail Kukushkin, beating his opponent 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-2.
But despite ultimately winning easily, the Swiss athlete admitted that he delivered a far from vintage performance that would have to be improved upon.
It’s always nerve-wracking playing your first match on Centre Court because you don’t get the chance to practice at the start of the tournament. But it was a matter of playing solid and getting through.
Elsewhere Novak Djokovic enjoyed a similarly simple victory, beating Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 6-1.
In addition, there were no real surprises in the ladies’ singles, with Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Andrea Petkovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all advancing, though 15th seed Jelena Jankovic was unexpectedly beaten by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Finally, in the game we’ve all been waiting for, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have just begun an unlikely reprise of last year’s 11-hour epic on Court Three.