Ireland's Niland crumbles with Federer in sight

Well, there are limits. They have already shown the English how to play cricket this year, after all. Yesterday, as though in atonement, an Irishman came to Wimbledon and produced a performance straight out of the English manual of plucky failure.

The pity of it was that Conor Niland – a qualifier with superior claims to many of the British favoured with a wild card – had seemed to show all the fortitude and ambition that elude so many home players when they come here. In a marathon slugfest with Adrian Mannarino, the first Irishman to play here in 31 years stood on the brink of a second-round tie with none other than Roger Federer. Having broken the Frenchman's serve for a second time in the fifth set, his destiny was in his own hands at 4-1. But he promptly contrived to lose five consecutive games. From looking forward to the biggest match of his career, he was suddenly looking back at the biggest match of his career – and a scoreline of 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

Making his Grand Slam debut at 29, however, he had certainly done himself proud over the past four hours. Certainly there will be no better atmosphere here this week than was generated by his compatriots squeezed around Court 17. Half of Co Limerick appeared to be there, and every ebb and flow in his fortunes was raucously amplified. His opponent, a rather soulful Frenchman, obligingly played the villain, arguing with the umpire and remorselessly spraying groundstrokes to the corners. How they roared, then, whenever their man rose to a crisis – never more so, perhaps, when he gave himself two set points in the third by flinging himself full length to stun one dead over the net. But Mannarino salvaged the game, won the tie-break, and showed terrific spirit to withstand the unsparingly partisan uproar that greeted his every error. Even his finest flourishes barely drew even the most perfunctory applause.

Federer, meanwhile, will note that Mannarino mustered just four aces over the afternoon. Overall there has so far been precious little sign of any man rocking the boat, and Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro all briskly dismissed their first opponents in straight sets.

Djokovic continues in the form of his life, making ruthlessly short work of Jérémy Chardy, requiring just 80 minutes to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. "It's great to be back on Centre Court, the most famous in the world," the Serbian said. "It's my first grass-court match of the season and I'm extremely happy with how I played. Roger and Rafa have been so successful on grass, and they deserve to be favourites here, but I'm one of the players waiting behind for his chance."

Roddick set the tone by smashing four consecutive aces in the very first game before seeing off Andreas Beck, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3. Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, was meanwhile able to break Flavio Cipolla's serve three times in a slick 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 success. The No 15 seed, Gilles Simon, had a tougher passage against his French compatriot, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks