London – Roger Federer revealed he is feeling the pressure of going for Olympic gold after the Wimbledon champion survived a scare to defeat Colombia's Alejandro Falla 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round.
Federer is back at Wimbledon less than a month after beating Andy Murray in the final to win a record-equalling seventh title at the All England Club and his sights are firmly fixed on claiming his first singles gold.
But the world number one, who won gold in the doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka in Beijing four years ago, will need to improve on this inconsistent display to fulfill his dream.
“When I play for Switzerland I try to be a good ambassador as I travel around for eight months of the year. But it's different having the Swiss cross on your jersey and you do feel the pressure,” said Federer, who wasted three match points in the second set.
“It's not something that we're used to, everybody's talking about it on the street in Switzerland. It only comes every four years so it's unusual and I feel that too.”
Falla, ranked 51st in the world, had Federer on the ropes for a while at the end of the second set and the start of the third before the Swiss found enough momentum to scrape through in one hour and 47 minutes on Centre Court.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion will face France's Julien Benneteau, who took a two-set lead against Federer before losing in the Wimbledon third round this year, for a place in the last 16.
That was one of Federer's few stumbles en route to Wimbledon glory, but he believes coming back to the All England Club as defending champion so soon after makes it much harder to win gold as well.
“It's great coming back as champion, but it's so much harder to do it again in the first round knowing that every match for me is like a final,” he said.
“I've struggled against Falla in the past at times. I was able to mix it up well and played well for the first set and a half, then all of a sudden I missed the match points, things got difficult and he played a great match to come back.
“I'm relieved of course. Falla is a great player, counter-punches well, plays really well and made things really difficult for me.” – AFP