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Sports

June 26, 2013

TENNIS: Federer stunned in 2nd round by Stakhovsky

One of biggest upsets in Grand Slam history just part of chaotic day

WIMBLEDON, England — Seven-time champion Roger Federer was stunned by 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, his earliest loss in a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian outplayed Federer on Centre Court, serving and volleying his way to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory that stands out as one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history.

“Magic,” Stakhovsky said. “I couldn’t play any better today.”

The result capped a chaotic day at Wimbledon when seven players were forced out by injuries, and former champion Maria Sharapova fell in the second round to a qualifier. Seven former No. 1 -ranked players all departed the tournament Wednesday.

Federer’s loss ended his record streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, a run that began at Wimbledon in 2004, shortly after a third-round exit at that year’s French Open.

“It’s always a disappointment losing any match around the world, and particularly here,” Federer said. “I’ve had some great moments here, but also some tougher ones. Can’t have ‘em all. It was a tough loss today.”

The owner of a record 17 major championships, Federer hadn’t been beaten in the second round or earlier since a first-round defeat at the 2003 French Open.

The 31-year-old Federer said he won’t “panic” and will work hard to come back stronger.

“I’m looking forward to what’s to come,” he said. “Looking forward to next year, that I can do better next year. “

Federer said the end of his quarterfinal run does not represent the end of an era.

“I still have plans to play for many more years to come,” he said. “ It’s normal that after all of a sudden losing early after being in the quarters 36 times, people feel it’s different. “

Federer’s shock defeat was his earliest at the All England Club since a first-round loss in 2002 to No. 154-ranked Mario Ancic. Stakhovsky is the lowest-ranked player to beat Federer at any event since then.

Wednesday’s defeat came on the same grass court Federer has made his own for nearly a decade.

It ended with Stakhovsky converting on his second match point, a 13-stroke rally that finished with Federer hitting a backhand wide.

Stakhovsky fell onto his back in celebration. He later bowed to the crowd as Federer walked off the court with a quick wave.

Federer converted only one of eight break points against Stakhovsky, who broke the Swiss star twice. The Ukrainian piled up 72 winners against 17 unforced errors, while Federer had 56 winners and 13 errors.

While few play serve-and-volley these days, Stakhovsky used the tactic with great success throughout the match to keep Federer off balance. He won 61 out of 96 points at the net.

“I’m still in disbelief,” Stakhovsky said. “When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon it’s like you are playing two persons. First you play Roger Federer, then you play his ego, and on the Centre Court of Wimbledon, where he is historical. So that’s like playing two against one.”

Federer’s defeat was the biggest shock on a day full of them.

Earlier, third-seeded Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, was stunned 6-3, 6-4 by 131st-ranked Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in the second round.

Sharapova slipped and fell several times on the grass on Court 2 and received medical treatment from the trainer in the second set.

It wasn’t serious enough to force Sharapova to quit, as so many others did Wednesday either by walkover or mid-match retirements.

Among the casualties: second-seeded Victoria Azarenka (walkover, right knee), men’s No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (retirement, left knee), John Isner (retirement, left knee) and Steve Darcis (walkover, right shoulder). Darcis was the man who stunned two-time champion Rafael Nadal in the first round Monday.

Also out: 10th-seeded Marin Cilic (walkover, left knee); 2006 quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek (retirement, left hamstring); and Yaroslava Shvedova (walkover, right arm).

The International Tennis Federation said the seven players forced out is believed to be the most in one day at any Grand Slam event in the 45 years of the Open era.

“I would say (it’s a) very black day,” Cilic said of the spate of injury withdrawals. “The other days, other weeks, there were no pullouts. Everything just happened today.”

If that wasn’t enough, the tournament lost all those former No. 1 players: Sharapova, Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic among the women, and Federer and Lleyton Hewitt among the men.

With Azarenka and Sharapova gone, the prospect of Serena Williams lifting the women’s trophy for a sixth time look even stronger. Williams, who is riding a 32-match winning streak, had already been considered the overwhelming title favorite.

 

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