Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By STEPHEN WILSON/The Associated Press
LONDON - It was already one of the most tumultuous days in Grand Slam tennis history, with seven players forced out by injuries, two of the top three seeded women eliminated and six former No. 1-ranked players leaving early.
Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine reacts Wednesday after pulling out the upset nobody could have foreseen, defeating Roger Federer, the longtime king of Wimbledon, in the second round of this year’s event. Federer and Rafael Nadal are both gone after the first three days of the event.
Photos by The Associated Press
Maria Sharapova had a tough time keeping on her feet and went down … and also down to defeat in straight sets, to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, the 131st-ranked player in the world.
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So what else could happen to make this a day like no other at Wimbledon?
Here's what: the world's greatest grass-court player losing on his favorite Centre Court -- the most famous stage in tennis -- to a 116th-ranked qualifier who had never beaten a top-10 player.
Roger Federer, a seven-time champion, was stunned Wednesday by Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at the All England Club, his earliest loss in a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years.
The 27-year-old Ukrainian outplayed Federer, 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 sport's biggest upsets.
"Magic," Stakhovsky said. "I couldn't play any better today."
Federer's loss ended his record streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 straight 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 result capped a chaotic day of injuries, walkovers, retirements and shocking results.
Third-seeded Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, fell to a 131st-ranked qualifier. No. 2 Victoria Azerenka was among the seven injury withdrawals, believed to be a Grand Slam single-day record in the Open era. Federer became the seventh former No. 1 player to exit on this one day.
Only two days ago, two-time champion Rafael Nadal lost in the first round to 135th-ranked Steve Darcis.
After only three days, five of the top 10 seeded women and four of the top 10 men are already out of the draw.
The owner of a record 17 major titles and the defending champion, Federer hadn't been beaten in the second round or earlier at a Slam since a first-round defeat at the 2003 French Open.
Federer, 31, said he won't "panic" and will work 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."
Federer said the loss doesn't 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 defeat was his earliest at the All England Club since a first-round loss in 2002 to 154th-ranked Mario Ancic.
Most shocking: 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 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 to keep Federer off balance. He won 61 of 96 points at the net.
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