The upsets in the men’s draw at Wimbledon this year have been amazing with none more surprising than the 2nd round defeat of 7-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. With his nemesis upset in the 1st round, you would have thought that defending champion would have had a spring in his step and an increased confidence to win through to his 37th consecutive Grand Slam quarter final.
The 1.85m Federer was seeded to confront Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals coming in with a 4-12 record in the most recent matches. Nadal a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion headed in to London on the wave of winning his eighth Roland Garros title as a favourite to win a third Wimbledon Championship. Federer would have been forgiven for thinking his 32nd birthday present had come 6 weeks early, when the World No.135 Steve Darcis upset Rafa in the 1st round.
Enter 27-year-old Sergiy Stakhovsky having won just seven ATP singles matches this year, ranked No.116 and having never won a match against a Top 10 opponent from his previous 20 Top 10 clashes. The Ukrainian lost his own service game just once with a brilliant serve and volley display on Wednesday evening, obviously fully aware that rallying with Federer at The Championships was a certain no-win proposition.
The 1.93m Stakhovsky inflicted Federer’s earliest loss in a Grand Slam in 10 years, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5, 7-6(5). It was Federer’s worst tour-level loss since the 1st round of Wimbledon 2002 against No.154 Mario Ancic. In addition, it was the earliest loss at Wimbledon by a defending champion since Lleyton Hewitt’s 1st round loss to Ivo Karlovic in 2003.
Stakhovsky is pictured above at the Queen’s Club tournament in London this year executing a single-handed backhand drive displaying a balanced head position and long extension through the hitting zone. Stakhovsky’s victory over Federer equalled best Grand Slam singles result and set a new career best performance at Wimbledon.
Federer’s shock exit, marked the first time since the 2003 US Open that both he and Nadal were unable to make it to the 3rd round in a Grand Slam event. The 2012 Wimbledon runner-up and Olympic gold medallist on these same courts, Andy Murray is now the only remaining player in the Top 10 in the bottom half of the draw. In the 3rd round No.15, 20, 22, 24, 25 and 32 are the last six seeds of the 15 originally in Murray’s path to the final.
Photo credit: Carine06