Wimbledon 2012: day one – as it happened
10.30am: Xan Brooks will be here shortly with all the news from . In the meantime, here's today's order of play.
1pm (1) Novak Djokovic (Ser) v Juan Carlos Ferrero (Sp), (1) (Rus) v Anastasia Rodionova (Aus), Ernests Gulbis (Lat) v (6) Tomas Berdych (Cz Rep)
1pm David Nalbandian (Arg) v (8) Janko Tipsarevic (Ser), (3) Roger Federer (Swi) v Albert Ramos (Sp), Kim Clijsters (Bel) v (18) Jelena Jankovic (Ser)
11.30am (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) v Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk), Venus Williams (US) v Elena Vesnina (Rus), Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) v (28) Radek Stepanek (Cz Rep), Igor Andreev (Rus) v Oliver Golding (GB)
11.30am Carla Suarez Navarro (Sp) v (5) Samantha Stosur (Aus), Grega Zemlja (Slo) v Josh Goodall (GB), (11) John Isner (US) v Alejandro Falla (Col), Jamie Lee Hampton (US) v (27) Daniela Hantuchova (Svk)
11.30am (17) Fernando Verdasco (Sp) v Jimmy Wang (Tpe), Vesna Dolonc (Ser) v Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul), (23) Petra Cetkovska (Cz Rep) v Vania King (USA), Paolo Lorenzi (It) v Nicolas Mahut (Fr)
11.30am Sorana Cirstea (Rom) v Pauline Parmentier (Fr), Bojana Jovanovski (Ser) v Eleni Daniilidou (Gre), Jérémy Chardy (Fr) v Filippo Volandri (It), Alexandra Panova (Rus) & Shuai Zhang (Chn) v (11) Natalie Grandin (Rsa) & Vladimira Uhlirova (Cz Rep)
11.30am Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Sp) v Michael Russell (US), Stéphanie Foretz Gacon (Fr) v (29) Monica Niculescu (Rom), Sloane Stephens (US) v Karolina Pliskova (Cz Rep), Guillaume Rufin (Fr) v Steve Darcis (Bel)
11.30am Gilles Muller (Lux) v (29) Julien Benneteau (Fr), Kai-Chen Chang (Tpe) v Andrea Hlavackova (Cz Rep), Timea Babos (Hun) v Melanie Oudin (US), Denis Istomin (Uzb) v (23) Andreas Seppi (It)
11.30am Ryan Sweeting (US) v Potito Starace (It), Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) v Virginie Razzano (Fr), Philipp Petzschner (Ger) v Blaz Kavcic (Slo), Edina Gallovits-Hall (Rom) v Silvia Soler-Espinosa (Sp)
11.30am Camila Giorgi (It) v (16) Flavia Pennetta (It), Inigo Cervantes (Sp) v Flavio Cipolla (It), Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) v Alberta Brianti (It), Jonathan Erlich (Isr) & Andy Ram (Isr) v Treat Conrad Huey (Phi) & Dominic Inglot (GB)
11.30am Carlos Berlocq (Arg) v Ruben Bemelmans (Bel), (30) Shuai Peng (Chn) v Sandra Zaniewska (Pol), Simone Bolelli (It) v Jerzy Janowicz (Pol), Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr) v Mathilde Johansson (Fr)
11.30am (11) Na Li (Chn) v Ksenia Pervak (Kaz), Benjamin Becker (Ger) v James Blake (US), Ryan Harrison (US) v Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe)
11.30am Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) v Ayumi Morita (Jpn), (24) Marcel Granollers (Sp) v Viktor Troicki (Ser), Xavier Malisse (Bel) v Marinko Matosevic (Aus), Alexandra Cadantu (Rom) v (17) Maria Kirilenko (Rus)
11.30am Carsten Ball (Aus) & Thomaz Bellucci (Br) v Daniele Bracciali (It) & Julian Knowle (Aut), Ashley Fisher (Aus) & Jordan Kerr (Aus) v (15) Ivan Dodig (Cro) & Marcelo Melo (Br), (12) Anabel Medina Garrigues (Sp) & Arantxa Parra Santonja (Sp) v Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (Pol) & Alicja Rosolska (Pol)
11.30am Petra Martic (Cro) v (15) Sabine Lisicki (Ger), Martin Klizan (Svk) v Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg), Naomi Broady (GB) v Lourdes Dominguez Lino (Sp), (12) Nicolas Almagro (Sp) v Olivier Rochus (Bel)
11.30am Tobias Kamke (Ger) v (18) Richard Gasquet (Fr), Arantxa Rus (Ned) v Misaki Doi (Jpn), Leonardo Mayer (Arg) v (15) Juan Monaco (Arg), (28) Christina Mchale (US) v Johanna Konta (GB)
11.30am (26) Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) v Donald Young (US), Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fr) v (13) Gilles Simon (Fr), Lucie Hradecka (Cz Rep) v (8) Angelique Kerber (Ger), (20) Nadia Petrova (Rus) v Maria Elena Camerin (It)
11.30am Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) v Anna Tatishvili (Geo), Fabio Fognini (It) v Michael Llodra (Fr), (31) Florian Mayer (Ger) v Dmitry Tursunov (Rus)
TBA (12) Vera Zvonareva (Rus) v Mona Barthel (Ger), Iveta Benesova (Cz Rep) v Heather Watson (GB), (14) Eric Butorac (US) & Jamie Murray (GB) v Andre Begemann (Ger) & Igor Zelenay (Svk)
11.02am: The 126th Wimbledon championships open to a warm summer sun and a light breeze that sends candy-floss clouds ambling over the All England Club, nestled amid the suburban streets and imposing McMansions of SW19.
The gates are open, allowing the punters to drift amid the walkways, their heads abuzz with so many questions. Will Djokovic and Nadal progress through the draw to contest their fifth successive grand slam final? Can Maria Shaparova, fresh from her triumph at Roland Garros, restore some semblance of order to a chaotic women's game? Might Federer stoke the embers of old glories to surge to an improbable seventh Wimbledon title? And (of course), could this, at long last, be the Year of the Great Andy Murray Breakthrough? Or is he again destined to falter in the semi-finals, perhaps going down in the agonising penalty shoot-out of a tie-break against Rafa Nadal?
Expect the answers to be drip-fed, at dramatic intervals, over the ensuing fortnight.
11.20am: Here, then, is how the day plays out. Battle commences on the main stages (Centre and No.1) at 1pm, but begins at tennis's equivalent of the crack of dawn (11.30am) everywhere else, where potential highlights include fifth-seed Samantha Stosur against Carla Suarez Navarro, that talented Russian nearly-man Mikhail Youzhny versus America's Donald Young and third-seed Agnieszka Radwanska againsy Magdalena Rybarikova.
All of this, however, looks likely to serve as a mere throat-clearing exercise ahead of the main curtain raiser, as Novak Djokovic opens the defence of his title against the 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero on Centre, while Queens pariah David Nalbandian takes on eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic next door on No.1. Will be following that one live - but .
11.55am: And so it begins. The 126th edition of Wimbledon begins quietly, with the traditional audience with Tim Henman and John McEnroe on a pristine and unblemished Centre Court. Elsewhere, almost incidentally, the balls are already being hit in anger. Over on Court 3, Samantha Stosur bounds to an instant 4-0 lead over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, while (on seven), 29th-seed Julien Benneteau eases into a 4-1 lead over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
On the terrace over the press centre, I spot ninth-seed Juan Martin Del Potro ambling lazily through the sunshine, his racket-bag slung over his shoulder. If the 2009 US Open champion is still smarting over letting a two-set lead over Roger Federer slip away at the French Open last month, he's certainly not showing it.
12.00pm: It seems the clouds will be the only thing flying over SW19, at least for the forseeable future. My colleague Esther Addley mails with the latest word on the security measures that have been taken to ensure this year's event doesn't go up like some ghastly Nalbandian-esque fireball.
Police and aviation authorities have imposed a "no-fly" zone over the All England Club for the first time in almost a decade, in part because of increased security concerns at this year's Championships.
The air exclusion zone, banning low-flying aircraft, was last used in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but was stopped in 2003. Superintendent Pete Dobson, from the Metropolitan police said the Civil Aviation Authority had agreed to impose a temporary notice this year.
He said the All England Club had asked for the restriction, which extends 500 feet high and for a radius of 0.75 nautical miles, after complaints from the club about noise, but acknowledged that security was an additional concern.
Extra officers, both in uniform and plain clothes, are patrolling the site this year, said Dobson, admitting that the 14 days of the Championships offer "a large window of opportunity" for terrorists, protesters or "fixated individuals" who might want to attack or disrupt them.
In addition, security guards have been issued with a list of banned individuals "of concern to tennis around the world", including stalkers.
The southwest London club will be the site of the Olympic tennis matches less than three weeks after the conclusion of the Wimbledon Championships. Dobson said the increased attention on London as a result of the Games and the Diamond Jubilee was a factor in the increased security at this year's Championships.
"I am acutely aware that if somebody was to do something untoward here it could well have a knock-on effect on the Olympics," he said.
12.39pm: A thousand apologies for the radio silence. Was flushed from the comfort of my Guardian desk in the press centre, wandered like a nomad for a spell and am now seated at a desk earmarked for "Il Messagero". Fingers crossed Il Messagero has been held up in customs, or this liveblog may unfold like the notorious rain-affected semi-final between Goran Ivansevic and Tim Henman as I am shuttled endlessly in search of home.
Away on the courts, Samatha Stosur leads Suarez Navarro 6-1 4-3 and looks set fair for the second round, while Li Na has bagged the first set 6-3 from Ksenia Pervak. And away on Court 18, Donald Young draws first blood against 26th-seed Mikhail Youzhny, taking the first set 6-4.
12.47pm: Looking further ahead, the evidence suggests that Novak Djokovic's opening match against Juan Carlos Ferrero may not be the facile formality that some are expecting. Incredibly, the two men have met just twice before, and enter today's match with . Ferrero may be a fading star these days, but he was number one in the world for a brief spell back in 2003 and is possessed of a lasering backhand that may yet pose the Serb some problems. The caveat, of course, is that he is also 32 years-old. In tennis terms, he's in his dotage.
Out on Court Three, Sam Stosur wraps up an easy 6-1, 6-3 win to advance to round two.
12.57pm: Hard on the heels of the Stosur victory, another result from the grounds of SW19. Li Na, the eleventh seed, completes an elementary 6-3, 6-1 win over Ksenia Pervak, pulling away in the second set to canter happily over the finish line. Elsewhere, Fernando Verdasco ekes the first set in a tie-break from the gloriously named Jimmy Wang, Julien Benneteau goes two sets up on Luxembourg's Gilles Muller and 15th-seed Sabine Lisicki knocks down Petra Martic to the tune of a 6-4, 6-2 scoreline.
And spare a thought for Italy's Polito Starace, out on the unforgiving lawns of Court Eight. He's just been forced to retire to the hard-hitting American Ryan Sweeting, trailing 2-6, 0-2, his Wimbledon over almost before it begun.
1.12pm: Out on Centre, the world number one Novak Djokovic hits up ahead of his opening match against Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, a pesky mosquito of a baseliner who briefly challenged Roger Federer for the top spot back in in 2003. You can with my redoubtable colleague Jacob Steinberg, though rest assured we'll also be keeping tabs on it here, as we bounce to and fo between the other courts.
Over on Court One, for instance, the omens are good for a torrid battle between David Nalbandian and eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic. The pair have met on three previous occasions, with . What remains to be seen is how well the Argentine has bounced back following his ignominious exit from the Queens' final the other week. Has his temper cooled? Has his poor foot recovered after it so cruelly collided with that pesky advertising hoarding which, in turn, went on to clobber holy-hell out of a line judge's shin? Nalbandian, no doubt, will be roared to the rafters by his adoring fans as he sets out to put all that old madness behind him.
1.24pm: Janko Tipsarevic lances an ace out wide to tie the first set at 2-2 in his match against David Nalbandian. The Serb is a nimble, busy little tormentor, replete with crisp ground-strokes, deft touch at the net and pair of unsettling, white-framed sunglasses that make him look like Tony Soprano on a beach holiday to Butlins. Nalbandian is more four-square and bullish, but he has yet to settle down and find his groove. He steers a shot wide to be broken and Tipsarevic gets his nose ahead 3-2.
1.28pm: News from elsewhere: third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska sees off Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-3, and Fernando Verdasco goes two sets to the good over Jimmy Wang. Mikhail Youzhny squares his match against Donald Young at one set apiece, and Britain's Jamie Goodall dumps the first set 4-6 to Gregor Zemlja.
Back on Centre, Djokovic and Ferrero are locked at two games all.
1.43pm: Better warn the lines judges: David Nalbandian is simmering, simmering, about to boil over. Twice the Argentine Tantrum has Tisarevic on the run with probing forehands to the corners. Twice he clambers to break point, only to fall short. The Serb wriggles free with another stinging serve to lead 5-3 in the first.
Or, as Brad Gilbert puts it:
Tispy playing very solid up 5-3 on Nalby in the 1st set the crowd was very polite to DN when he walked on the court
More updates from the grounds: Eighteenth-seed Richard Gasquet runs out a comfortable 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 winner over Tobias Kamke, Benneteau sees off Muller 6-2, 7-5, 7-6, while former champion Venus Williams squanders her opening service game against Elena Vesnina. Over on Centre, takes the first set 6-3 from Juan Carlos Ferrero.
1.48pm: Game and first set to Janko Tipsarevic. He takes it 6-4, with a rifling serve that draws an error on the return. "Waa-arrgh-harrgh," groans Nalbandian as he stomps towards his chair. So far, at least, the line judges remain unmolested.
1.58pm: Matters turn from bad to worse and from worse to hellish for hapless David Nalbandian out on Court No.1. He is broken at the start of the second set, scrambling desperately to chase down a sly drop volley from the Serb. He arrives too late, scooping the ball up on the second bounce to fall 0-1 behind.
In vain he looks around for someone to take his rage out on. But his former target, Queens linesman Andrew McDougall, is apparently nowhere in sight. Where is he, exactly?
The Guardian's tennis writer Simon Cambers mails:
Just to say that the linesman who was injured by Nalbandian is working throughout Wimbledon. Don't know where he is today and he won't speak because of the ongoing police "investigation".....
Please do mail, comment or tweet if you see him about. Eyes peeled for the Wimbledon judge with the tell-tale limp and the nervous air.
2.11pm: Post-lunch news from all around. Mikhail Youzhny recovers from an early wobble to upend Donald Young 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, Verdasco completes a 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Jimmy Wang and American veteran James Blake takes the first set on a tie-break from Benjamin Becker. Elsewhere, France's Michael Llodra (arguably the last of the gallant, old-school serve-volleyers) leads Fabio Fognini 6-3, 2-4, while Djokovic goes a break up in the second against the fading Ferrero.
And whisper it, but there may be a flag-waving news story building on Court Three, where British wild-card Josh Goodall has rebounded from the loss of the first set to lead Grega Zemlja 4-6, 6-3, 2-1 with a break. Who knows: he may now go on to win the whole damn thing. Surely only an idiot would bet against him now.
2.19pm: Court Two used to be known as the graveyard of champions until they dug it up and replanted it elsewhere, presumably in the hope that this would exorcise the demons.
It hasn't worked. The demons are still making merry and right now they seem to be dancing the tarantella all over the addled brain of Ms Venus Williams. The five-time former champion comes to Wimbledon unseeded, her health an issue and her game in disarray. Her footwork has turned sluggish and her ground-strokes lack the fire of old. She is almost bagelled in her opening set against Russia's Elena Vesnina before clawing a game back at the eleventh hour. But it's not enough; not by a long chalk. First set to Vesnina, six games to one.
And rats, over on Court Three, Josh Goodall is broken back and now trails 2-3 in the third. Cancel that bet on him to win the entire tournament! I've suffered a sudden, all-too characteristic change of heart.
2.27pm: Back on the regal spread of Centre Court, Novak Djokovic eases to a 6-3, 6-3 lead over scurrying Juan Carlos Ferrero. And for those who like to keep up with the nitty-gritty of all these games, who relish going down the rabbit-hole to discover where these high-stake matches are won and lost, do be sure to check out our pioneering service, courtesy of IBM.
2.48pm: There's a third set tie-break in the tussle between Britain's Josh Goodall and Slovakia's Grega Zemjla. The Briton is fired up, rocking on the balls of his feet, desperate to take his chance and seize the initiative. But he keeps finding himself pinned behind the baseline, slicing at his backhand when he should be hitting through. At 3-3 he dumps a second serve into the net to surrender the advantage and is then pegged still further back, reeling from a mortar attack of heavy deliveries and put-away forehands. Another double-fault seals the deal. Zemlja leads 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.
No such problems for the reigning champion. Novak Djokovic sends an ace up the T to defeat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 and advance to round two. One wonders whether the 32-year-old Spaniard has just played his last singles match at SW19.
2.58pm: Funeral wreaths at the ready: a former champion has fallen. Elena Vesnina wins 6-1, 6-3 and Venus Williams is heading home. Still struggling with Sjogren's syndrome, Williams was a ghost of her old, magnificent self on the wilds of Court Two. She raged fitfully against the dying of the light, but it was all over too soon. Williams first won this title back in 2000, defeating Lindsay Davenport in the final. She won it again in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008. That assures her of a place amid the Wimbledon immortals. But she cut a sad and sorry figure here today.
3.09pm: Hey ho, life goes on. Leastways it does for Janko Tipsarevic, who sneaks out the second set to lead David Nalbandian 6-4, 7-6. And here, , is how he's winning the points that matter the most.
Updates from further afield: Benjamin Becker levels his match against James Blake at one set apiece, while Fabio Fognini now leads the artful Michael Llodra by two sets to one. Back on three, Josh Goodall has a mountain to climb in his contest with Gregor Zemlja, trailing 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 2-4. And over on Centre, Maria Sharapova has just pocketed the first game from Anastasia Rodionova. The great , like so.
3.28pm: Out on court three, the crowd roars and applauds as Josh Goodall prepares to receive. They are willing him to turn this match around; to rediscover the form that briefly put him ahead in the third set; to somehow conspire a last-gasp victory from the jaws of defeat. It is not to be. Gregor Zemlja's serve is too heavy, too forbidding and the British wild-card can barely wriggle his way into a rally. Zemlja wins 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 and Goodall is out.
Away at the press conference, the wake is all prepared for Venus Williams, who lost earlier today, her earliest exit at Wimbledon since 1997. The trouble is that Williams won't play ball. She's not about to look back lovingly on her glittering career, nor to shed bitter tears over what transpired today. "I've lost before so I know how to deal with it," she says. "Simple as that." Neither will she be drawn on the matter of the Sjogren's syndrome that has hampered her form. "I don't really feel like talking about my health right now," she says.
Undeterred, a journalist asks her whether she figures she can keep playing; keep contesting the major titles, just like she used to. Williams responds with a rolling, mirthless laugh. "Sure," she says, though she sounds anything but.
3.31pm: More from the Venus Williams press conference:
There's no way I'm gonna lay down and give up just because of what happened in five or six fricking tournaments. I'm tough. I'm tough as nails, believe me
3.36pm: As Venus Williams beats a hasty retreat from the interview room, it's high time for a recap. On Centre, Maria Sharapova looks set fair for the opening set, leading Anastasia Rodionova five games to one. Janko Tipsarevic is now just one game from victory in his match against David Nalbandian, while Fabio Fognini finds himself in the exact same position against Michael Llodra. The clouds have thickened and the sun is hiding. And yet day one of Wimbledon continues apace.
3.45pm: So long, Nalbandian. He came, he kicked, he failed to conquer. Still smarting from his disqualification at the Queens' final, the Argentine struggled to impose himself against the wily, eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic and was sent packing in straight sets. The Serb advances to the second round, winning 6-4, 7-6, 6-2, and will now square off against the American Ryan Sweeting. For Nalbandian, this must surely rank as the worst trip to the UK since the time he kicked Prince Harry at Boujis and wound up being carted off to the Tower of London.
Elsewhere, Fabio Fognini runs out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 winner over Michael Llodra. And OK (not to the lawyers), David Nalbandian didn't really kick Prince Harry at Boujis. It may well have been at China White's.
4.02pm: Could there be a virus on the loose at the All England Club? Or is it that the lawns are still a bright green hazard; full of sap and as slippery as a skating rink? Either way, it's becoming like a casualty ward out there. No sooner has Paul-Henri Mathieu pulled out while trailing 13th-seed Gilles Simon 3-6, 4-5 than Sergiy Stakhovsky is also on his way to the sick-bed. Radek Stepanek is duly ushered through to the second round while leading 6-1, 1-0.
It is left to Germany's Benjamin Becker to win through the hard way, through honest toil against a fit opponent. He defeats the American veteran James Blake in four, scrappy sets, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-4.
4.14pm: Onto the lawns of Court No.1 steps Roger Federer, six-time former champion, gilded Greatest of All-Time and yet now idling at number three in the rankings and without a grand slam title to his name since January 2010. He's up against Albert Ramos, the humble dentist's son from Barcelona, who sports the jumpy, watchful air of a man poised to undergo protracted root-canal surgery. Poor Ramos has ants in his pants and a swinging southpaw forehand that refuses to settle down and keep the ball within the lines. In no time at all, the artful Roger is 4-0 ahead.
4.24pm: Scurrying to his left, stooping low to retrieve a backhand, Roger Federer somehow conspires to slide the ball up the line for an outright winner. He's looking loose and limber; the legend on home turf. Even so, potential dangers lay in wait. Our points out that the six-time champion needs to win at least 78% of his first-serve points to stand any chance of subduing the Spaniard. So far, at least, that's just what he's doing. Roger Federer takes the opening set, six games to one.
4.40pm: Albert Ramos sparks an encouraging round of applause as he fends off three break points to hold, though he's still down a break, 1-2 in the second. In the meantime, the SlamTracker stats hurry to keep pace. Astonishingly, Federer is actually winning more points on his second serve (71%) than his first (61%). Ramos, for his part, is down to a dismal 20% success rate on his first delivery.
Meanwhile, Ryan Harrison pockets the first set from Yen-Hsun Lu, while Alejandro Falla appears to be attempting to cook up an upset by surging to a similar lead against 11th-seed John Isner. Assuming the unthinkable happens and Isner loses, the result denies us what we've all been waiting for: Isner-Mahut 3: Digging Up the Cemetery. Wimbledon's two marathon men are drawn to face each other, yet again, in the second round here.
4.43pm: OK, again with the apologies. I am now being politely asked to abandon the Il Messaggero desk and will wander off to search for another base I can call my own. Hopefully back soon. Federer 4-1 up in the second set.
4.55pm: And so our heady, whistle-stop tour of the Wimbledon press centre continues apace. Farewell Il Messaggero desk; hello the desk designated for The People newspaper. Lovely-jubbly, ya can't complain, get an eyeful of them ball-girls, etc etc. Already I fear that the People vibe is rubbing off on me.
And as luck would have it, there's some tennis going on. Roger Federer now leads Albert Ramos 6-1, 6-1, while Philipp Petzchner beats Blaz Kavcic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. And we have been treated to yet another retirement. France's Jeremy Chardy goes through 6-0, 6-1, 1-0 after Filipp Volandri pulls up injured.
5.07pm: Back in the bad old days, when the grass was slick and rackets were smaller, John Isner may well have had a bona-fide shot at taking this title. The American giant could have walloped his serves and knocked off his volleys and rolled the dice in a set of tie-breaks against the likes of Todd Martin or Mark Philippoussis. But now the courts are slower and the rackets are bigger and the heavyweight servers are being forced to grind it out from the baseline by darting, scurrying retrievers like Alejandro Falla.
The Colombian famously blew a two-set lead on Roger Federer back in 2010 and clearly relishes playing on the modern-day courts of SW19. He's posing Isner all sorts of problems out there, teasing and stretching the big man through the course of a tense second set tie-break. Falla scrambles to set point but Isner holds firm, forcing his way into net to cut off a volley. The American takes the tie-break to tie the match at one set all. He slumps in his chair and heaves a huge sigh of relief.
In the meantime, the redoubtable Gary Naylor mails with some thoughts on Roger Federer's chances:
King Roger is in a horrible position isn't he? His game
is much too good for the first week cannon fodder, but vulnerable
to dangerous second week floaters like Del Potro and Tsonga and
nowhere near good enough for Nadal and Djokovic. And only
Agassi has been an older champion since Arthur Ashe. We mere
mortals would bother, but why does he?
5.17pm: Latest missive from these casualty championships: Alejandro Falla has summoned the trainer. The Colombian appears to be struggling with lower-back pain, but is opting to play on, at least for the time being. It could be that we are in this one for the long haul. The stats tell us that a quarter of John Isner's grand slam matches have gone the distance - the full five sets - over the past two years: seven out of 28 since 2010. Topping them all, of course, was his extraordinary, staggering victory over Nicolas Mahut, 70-68 in the final set, a few years back.
Away on court seven, Hungary's Timea Babos grinds out a three set win over the American Melanie Oudin. And over on Centre, the talented but wayward Ernests Gulbis sneaks the first set on a tie-break from sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych.
5.24pm: Down on Court No.1, Roger Federer sends a graceful, almost insouciant ace up the T to complete a supremely simple 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over the battling but outclassed Albert Ramos. No doubt the his best days are behind him. Almost certainly he won't be able to rise to the challenge of beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in successive matches to take this year's title. And yet, and yet, and yet. Doubters be warned: the peerless Federer still looks awfully good out there - smooth and silken and altogether lethal. If anyone is going to get in the way of a fifth straight Nadal-Djokovic final, it's liable to be him.
5.37pm: Out on the sun-drenched terrace above the press centre, Lindsay Davenport toils to open the door to the TV studios, while Boris Becker slaps at the shoulder of his companion so hard that he darn near knocks the guy over. Down on the courts, the play continues all around as day one of the Wimbledon championships tip towards evening. Petra Cetkovska (seeded 23) rolls out a 6-4, 6-2 win over America's Vanya King, while John Isner is now a break up in the third set of his struggle against Alejandro Falla. Out on Court No.1, Kim Clijsters (appearing in what she says will be her last Wimbledon ever) is about to join battle with 18th-seed Jelena Jankovic.
5.45pm: For now, however, it's over to court two where Britain's Oliver Golding is going great guns against the wily Russian Igor Andreev. Golding sails through the first set 6-1 but is then pegged back in the second which goes to the tie-break. Both men are launching themselves at the ball as though it's their worst enemy, simultaneously hated and feared; a little yellow gremlin to be hit hard and hopefully killed.
If anything, Golding is too angry, too intent knocking the cover off the ball. He lashes two forehands into the tape and falls behind by a mini-break. Andreev, by contrast, shuffles his feet and strikes out with an icy precision. This is a magnificent, red-blooded contest but slowly, surely, the Russian appears to be gaining the advantage. Andreev takes the breaker to tie the match at a set apiece.
5.54pm: Flitting like a social butterfly to Court No.1 now, where we are still in the opening exchanges of the Clijsters-Jankovic stand-off. So far, it seems, both women are still finding their range and getting their footing, and we are seeing an awful lot of balls float long or wide, or trickle into the net. But Clijsters is just that shade more efficient and is playing with a degree more purpose than her Serbian opponent. She leads 3-0 with the break.
6.12pm: Early evidence from this year's championships, suggests that it's a good year for the ovas (with apparently 26 players whose name ends in ova competing in the women's draw) and a mixed season for the Mayers. First Florian Mayer sees off Dimitry Tursonov 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 and then his namesake Leonardo Mayer falls to the seeded Juan Monaco. Elsewhere, Slovakia's Martin Klizan sees off the Argentinian veteran Juan Ignacio Chela 11-9 in the final set, while Golding and Andreev are still on serve in the third.
Over on Centre, sixth-seed Tomas Berdych has his hands full containing the glorious, free-hitting challenge of Latvia's Ernests Gulbis. Berdych dearly wants to grab this match by the scruff of its neck and batter Gulbis into a punch-drunk state of submission. But the Latvian keeps coming back at him, catching the ball on the rise and rifling it into open space. Berdych chases wearily after another stinging forehand to corner, but it's no use, it's too fast. Gulbis takes the second set and now leads 7-6, 7-6.
6.27pm: True to form, the zombie bulk of John Isner is being dragged, kicking and gurning, into a fifth set of his opening match at Wimbledon. Colombia's Alejandro Falla toils through the fourth set tie-break to send the match to a final chapter. Pray to the heavens we don't have another Nicolas Mahut scenario on our hands.
For those happy souls just rolling in from another boisterous, carnival-esque day at the office, here's what's been happening. Day one of the 126th Wimbledon championships was a time of muted humiliation for David Nalbandian, comprehensively seen off by Janko Tipsaveric.
It was day of horror for former champion Venus Williams, who managed to grind out a mere four games in the course of an abject first-round departure.
But , brushing aside the challenge of the ageing Juan Carlos Ferrero, while . Most impressive, perhaps, was the , who skipped merrily to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win over Albert Ramos without breaking a sweat.
6.39pm: Just time for one last update before I pack up my laptop and run for the train. The third set of the wonderfully tense, tightly contested match between Britain's Oliver Golding and Russia's Igor Andreev winds, inevitably, to the tie-break. Golding is desperate to regain the advantage. He keeps getting his nose in front and keeps being pulled back. The crowd is electric; chanting his name, mentally willing the Briton to go that extra mile.
On this occasion, however, it is too much to ask. Andreev catches Golding with a crafty floated backhand pass that his opponent can only poke into the net. The Russian moves ahead 1-6, 7-6, 7-6 and, for all his skill and panache, it's now looking black for Golding.
Centre Court tomorrow plays host to Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and reigning women's champion Petra Kvitova. Bernard Tomic, Serena Williams, Juan Martin Del Potro and Caroline Wozniacki are over on Court No.1. We'll be here, keeping tabs and counting score. Be sure to join us; same time, same place.