Federer suffers shock exit
Melbourne, January 23
Four-time champion Roger Federer suffered his earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2001 as he slumped to a stunning four-set defeat against Italian Andreas Seppi. Seppi came into Friday’s match having lost all 10 of his previous matches against the 17-time Grand Slam champion, snatching just one set in the process.
But incredibly the world No 46 pulled off a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-5) victory over the second seed, who reached at least the semi-final stage each year from 2004 to 2014.
“I just tried to enjoying playing on centre court (Rod Laver Arena) because it’s not often I get the chance,” Seppi said in his post-game interview.
“It was one of the best matches for sure otherwise I can’t win against Roger. It’s never comfortable playing against Roger, you never can feel comfortable.”
“I was focusing on my service games as I was not getting many chances on his. The tie-break was great, especially the last point. I did not think I would get the ball. I thought it was a winner so I don’t know how I hit a winner.”
The 33-year-old 17-time Grand Slam champion struggled with his first serve early in the match, while the 30-year-old Seppi took advantage of three of his five break points to take a two sets to love lead.
Federer broke in the third game of the third set to begin what many on Rod Laver Arena thought would be a successful fight back.
Seppi, however, forced a tie-break in the fourth and clinched victory with a desperate lunging forehand past the charging Federer at the net to set up a fourth-round clash with either home favourite Nick Kyrgios or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.
Seppi admitted he would relish the chance of facing another partisan crowd if he were to face youngster Kyrgios. “It would be great, maybe on this court again, maybe again against all the people.”
Federer had been seeded to face either Andy Murray or Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals, and both the Scot and the Bulgarian will sense the draw opening up, with possible semi-final rival Rafael Nadal also looking shaky early on in the fortnight.
Federer has now not won a major title since Wimbledon in 2012, but he insisted there was nothing to take out of his early departure.
Late finish to year had no impact on Australian Open loss: Federer
MELBOURNE, January 23
A late end to last season that included a successful Davis Cup final and matches in India had no impact on Roger Federer’s surprise third round loss to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open on Friday, the second seed has said.
Federer, who had back trouble towards the end of 2014, helped Switzerland to their first Davis Cup victory in late November before he played the matches in India, ending his year later than usual.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong honestly. I wanted to go to India. I wanted to go back to Switzerland for Christmas,” Federer told reporters after his shock 6-4, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(5) loss to the world number 46.
“I practised as hard as I possibly could. Sure, the year ended late, but one week later than normal. At the end of the day, honestly I’m confident that what I did was the right thing.”
Federer had never lost to Seppi in their previous 10 encounters and had entered the season opening Grand Slam with some momentum after winning the Brisbane International title.
He also felt he was playing as well as he ever had.
A comfortable first round victory over Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun was followed with a below-par performance against Italy’s Simone Bolelli, in which he dropped the first set.
Practice had been fine, he said, though he had a slight sense of foreboding while preparing for the clash.
“I felt for some reason yesterday and this morning it was not going to be very simple,” he said. “Even in practice I still felt the same way.”
Even then, he still felt he had been striking the ball well and it would pass, but it seemed Friday was just a case that everything Seppi did came off.
Net cords dropped on the right side of the net, drives kissed the line, crucial points went in the Italian’s favour.
In short, it was just one of those days.
“I definitely wanted to go into the match, play aggressive, play the right way, play on my terms, but it was just hard to do (and) … somehow couldn’t play my best tennis,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner added.
“It had things to do with Andreas’ game and with my game as well. You put those things together, all of a sudden you’re playing a match you don’t want to play.”
“The rallies are going in a way you don’t like it. It wasn’t all bad. It’s just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way.”