Serbia's Novak Djokovic is seeded third in London and is one of the favourites for the Wimbledon crown. Olivier Rochus, only 5-ft-5 tall, was in the driving seat when leading 2 sets to 1.
Djokovic was struggling with the Belgian's precise groundstrokes and shrewd shot placement, but finally overcame stiff Belgian opposition to take the match 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and 6-2.
The evening match in Centre Court could be continued thanks to the roof. However, the match had to be interrupted for 20 minutes to close the roof over Centre Court. Djokovic eventually needed almost four hours to progress. The match ended around midnight CET, 11 p.m. in London.
It was not the first time that Rochus drives 23-year-old Djokovic, the world's number 3, to the edge. Before the match, Rochus enjoyed a 3-2 record against Djokovic in their previous meetings.
Henin, Clijsters lead Belgian armada
In the women's tournament, Belgium now has four players in the second round. Rosmalen champion Justine Henin had no problems against the world's number 56, Latvia's Anastasia Sevastova, wrapping up a win in straight sets in nearly one hour: 6-4, 6-3.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam event eluding Henin (photo), which gives the Belgian a clear mission. However, this year might be a year too early to compete with the world's elite, after her comeback early this year.
Kirsten Flipkens, the number 59 on the WTA rankings, beat Canada's Stephanie Dubois (WTA 124) also in straight sets: 6-4, 6-4.
Yanina Wickmayer, back in full strength after an elbow injury, needed three sets to overcome American Alison Riske (WTA 145): 6-4, 5-7 and 6-3. Wickmayer and Flipkens will now meet in the second round in a Belgian match.
Yesterday, Kim Clijsters had given the right example by beating Italy's Maria Elena Camerin.