Defending champion Roger Federer’s remarkable run of reaching 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals or better was ended in a shock second-round Wimbledon defeat by unheralded Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky on Wednesday.
Federer’s 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-5 7-6(5) loss in exactly three hours rocked Wimbledon to its core on a day that already seemed surreal after seven players withdrew or retired injured and third-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova also stumbled to defeat.
The last time Federer, who has won a record 17 grand slam titles, including seven gilded Challenge Cups, failed to reach at least the last eight was in the 2004 French Open. But on day three of the championships an opponent ranked a lowly 116th in the world launched outrageous winners left, right and centre to bring Federer to his knees and condemn the Swiss to his earliest Wimbledon exit since a first-round loss in 2002.
Speaking to the BBC in the immediate aftermath, Stakhovsky said: “I am in disbelief that it happened. It was the best tennis I played and incredible. When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon he’s historical, it’s like two against one. I hoped he wouldn’t get too far from me, that was my plan.
“I hung in there, tried to go to tie-breaks. I got a little tight when I got up a break in the fourth and I am really happy to go through. It’s magic. I couldn’t play any better. I did everything I needed, it was a fantastic day for me.”
Even the most optimistic of Stakhovsky supporters could not have seen this dramatic Centre Court result — one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history — coming this evening. The 27-year-old, who has only made the second round here once before, played a superb serve-and-volley game that ended Federer’s run of 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances.
Stakhovsky was good value for the win, with Federer having no answer to his opponent’s movement and precision.
Federer insisted the result was not a tragedy.
“It’s always a disappointment losing any match,” he told a press conference. “Particularly here, I’ve had some great moments but some tougher ones. You can’t have it all.”
On the end of his incredible quarter-final streak, the 31-year-old added: “It’s a great number, I’m very happy about it. I wish it wasn’t going to end here today but I don’t think fans are going to mourn it or myself. They’ll get over it, I’ll get over it. I can be proud of it but move on.
“Today was a normal day, a normal warm-up, normal match. Clearly I was hoping to win the match but I couldn’t do it. What you do after something like this, you don’t panic at this point. Go back to work and come back stronger. It’s hard to do sometimes.”
Andy Murray avoided the carnage to move smoothly into the third round with victory over Lu Yen-hsun earlier this evening.
On a day of injuries and shocks — the victims including Murray's once-potential quarter-final opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who walked out of his second-round clash with Ernests Gulbis after suffering knee and wrist injuries - the world number two left Court One with his title prospects enhanced.
As in his first-round win over Benjamin Becker, Murray looked in fine fettle and ran out a 6-3 6-3 7-5 winner in a minute over two hours and next meets Spanish 32nd seed Tommy Robredo.
The Spaniard saw off Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 7-6 (7/5).
Flamboyant German-Jamaican Dustin Brown pulled off the biggest win of his career by upsetting former champion Lleyton Hewitt.
Brown, a qualifier ranked 189th in the world, had only once won a main-draw match at a grand slam before this week but produced a fine display of power and touch to win 6-4 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-2.
The 28-year-old is far from your average tennis player. With long, flowing dreadlocks and an unorthodox serve-volley game, he certainly stands out. He has plenty of weapons, too, with a booming serve and forehand that caused Hewitt no end of problems.
Brown is far from all power, though, producing excellent drop shots and volleys, none better than the diving forehand volley that clipped off the top of the net and gave him the first set.
Brown leaped into the air as if he had won the tournament, but there was better to come.
Hewitt broke serve in the first game of the second set but Brown hit back to level at 2-2 and then broke in the 10th game as he had in the first set, pumping his fist into his chest as he bounced back to his seat.
The Australian always has great support, the ever-present ‘Fanatics’ leading the way, and it looked like he could turn the match round when he came from 3-1 down to win the third-set tie-break. But Brown was not finished and dominated the third set before leaving the court in tears as his achievement overwhelmed him.
Born in Germany but raised in Jamaica, Brown switched nationality in 2010 after becoming disillusioned with the lack of support from the Jamaican Tennis Association, picking Germany over Great Britain, for whom he qualified through his grandparents.
He used to tour European events in a camper-van, and admitted he could not quite believe the result, telling the BBC: “It’s going to take a while to sink in. I’m not normally the type of guy to cry, I don’t know what happened. I’m playing Lleyton Hewitt, a guy you’re watching when you’re growing up.
“I’ve won a lot of matches already playing qualies and a very good first round and that really helped me with my confidence to go into the match believing I could do it. Doing it and thinking you can do it are two things. I’ve been so often close to winning top matches and couldn’t put it together. I’ve got to take a look at that (fourth) set on tape.”
There was a minor upset when 31st seed Julien Benneteau was beaten 7-6 (7/1) 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 by former top-10 star Fernando Verdasco but there was no shock for 15th seed Nicolas Almagro.
He lost the second set to France's Guillaume Rufin but eventually battled to a 7-5 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 6-4 victory.