Dudi Sela cut a relieved figure after securing a battling five-set win over Marcel Granollers to book his place in the second round of the singles competition.
In a match which lasted just over two-and-a-half hours, the Israeli finally saw off his Spanish opponent, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Happy to get his name in the next round – where he faces a tricky test against big-serving American John Isner, he said: “It’s very positive that I’m through and I’m very happy to be in the second round, it’s more points, money and is nice to be involved on Thursday, playing against Isner. Hopefully I can play a little better on my service game and try to put a lot of balls back on his return.”
Putting in an indifferent performance over the five sets, he said: “The best set I played was the first, I was aggressive, it was my best tennis. In the second set, he played a bad game, I broke him but then in the third set I was very tired. Maybe I was very nervous, I felt really tired and at 3-0 down I thought I’d play ‘very relaxed’ and then try to come back in the fourth and fifth sets. In those last two, I played different tactics, I played long rallies, much slower balls, played with the slice and lower percent and I don’t think he liked it. I didn’t think I played that well, but I played smart in the fourth and fifth. But he’s a tough opponent, he has a good serve, always mixes, playing slice, high, flat, so it’s hard to get a rhythm against him.”
Despite coming into the match on the back of winning the Nottingham Open two weeks ago, he said he also felt he was nervous at times. “It’s always tough for everybody in the first round at Wimbledon”, he said. “I won Nottingham, I like the grass, I played Marcel in Australia and beat him, so I felt very confident going into the match. I didn’t want to disappoint myself, the Israeli media, there are a lot of things going on in my mind. I play with a lot of pressure, but I’m happy.”
Looking ahead to his second round clash on Thursday, he said: “It will be a different game, if he has a good service day and hits a lot of high percentage on first serves, it’s tough to break him. I have to be very solid on my service game, not give away silly points and if I have a chance – a break point – I have to take it, and not think too much.
I’ve played him in the past, once serving for the match, I can break him first time and suddenly win the set, I can play a double fault and it’s all of a sudden over, so you never know. I have to be very focussed on my service game and not think too much about him or his serve.”