Published June 26, 2013
| Sports Network
Wimbledon, England – Seven-time champion Roger Federer was a shocking second-round loser on a bizarre Wednesday at Wimbledon.
Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, ranked 116th in the world, came from behind to stun the third-seeded former world No. 1 star and reigning titlist in four sets, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), on the famed Centre Court at the All England Club.
The shocker came just two days after 135th-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis stunned two-time Wimbledon champ and reigning French Open king Rafael Nadal on the hallowed lawns here.
Displaying some classic serve-and-volley tennis, Stakhovsky baffled Federer for most of the match and dazzled the Swiss icon with some outstanding shot- making on Day 3.
Stakhovsky ultimately converted on his second match point when the 31-year-old Federer misfired wide on one final backhand after three hours of compelling tennis. The Ukrainian out-aced Federer (17-16) and broke Federer's serve twice, while the supreme Swiss managed only one break, which didn't even come until the fourth set.
The 27-year-old Stakhovsky had been 0-20 in his previous matches against top-10 players. He was a first-round loser in his last four Grand Slam events prior to this fortnight.
"Still in disbelief that this happened," Stakhovsky said. "I was playing my best tennis, and that still almost wasn't enough ... When you're playing Roger Federer at Wimbledon, it's like playing against two persons."
Federer's record streak of reaching 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals came to an end. This was his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since a first-round loss at the 2003 French Open.
The amazing Federer hadn't lost to a player outside the top 100 since 2005 (Richard Gasquet) and this was the earliest exit by a defending champion at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt lost in the opening round 10 years ago.
"Well I mean it's always disappointing losing any match anywhere around the world -- especially here," Federer said.
"I'll be okay," the eight-time Wimbledon finalist added.
The 17-time Grand Slam king Federer beat Andy Murray in last year's Wimbledon finale to tie Pete Sampras for the most men's titles here in the Open Era.
Federer was fresh off his grass-court title in Halle, Germany -- his first title of any kind in 10 months.
Meanwhile, the heavy British crowd favorite Murray eased into the third round, while no less than five men succumbed to injuries on Day 3, including sixth-seeded French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The second-seeded Murray managed to avoid the Day-3 carnage with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 handling of overmatched Taiwanese Yen-Hsun Lu on Court 1.
Murray was last year's Wimbledon runner-up to Federer and then beat the Swiss great in last year's Olympic gold-medal match here at the AEC. The British star is the reigning U.S. Open champ and was this year's Australian Open runner-up to current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The 26-year-old Murray, who now won't have to contend with either Federer or Nadal in the so-called "Group of Death" bottom half of the draw, is trying to give Britain its first men's Wimbledon singles champion in 77 years. His third-round opponent will be veteran Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
The former Aussie Open runner-up Tsonga, who reached Wimbledon semifinals each of the last two years, was trailing capable Latvian Ernests Gulbis 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 when he quit because of an apparent knee issue on an injury-filled Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 10th-seeded recent Queen's Club grass-court runner-up Marin Cilic was scheduled to meet Frenchman Kenny De Schepper, but decided against playing due to a left knee injury, while 18th-seeded 6-foot-10 American John Isner was battling Frenchman Adrian Mannarino when he retired at 1-1 in the first set, also citing a left knee injury.
"I would say (it's a) very black day," Cilic said of all the injury withdrawals. "The other days, other weeks, there were no pullouts. Everything just happened today."
Isner hurt his knee early in his match against Mannarino, took an injury timeout and called it quits after two games.
The towering American, of course, is best known at the All England Club for playing the longest match in tennis history three years ago with a five-set marathon in the first round against Nicolas Mahut. The 11-hour, 5-minute epic took three days to complete because of rain and darkness, ending with a 70-68 score in the final set.
Fifteenth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro steered clear of any problems by holding off Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-4.
Also pulling out were the other giant-killer Darcis and Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.
Darcis posted one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history on Monday when he shocked Nadal in straight sets. But he was unable to face Poland's Lukasz Kubot because of a right shoulder injury on Wednesday.
"Had to withdrawn after a win like this!?THE most difficult thing i had to do!!!#triedeverythingtoplaybutdidntwork!!!!" Darcis wrote on his Twitter account.
Stepanek was losing to 6-foot-8, 24th-seeded Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-2, 5-3 when he retired from their match due to a thigh injury.
Veteran 20th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny overcame promising Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 6-4; 22nd-seeded Argentine Juan Monaco came back to beat American Rajeev Ram 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2; rising 25th- seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire subdued fellow countryman Stephane Robert 6-4, 7-5, 6-4; Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco erased 31st-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4; and the 32nd-seeded former top-10 star Robredo bested the aforementioned Mahut 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
Also on Wednesday, Serb Viktor Troicki topped Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, Austrian southpaw Jurgen Melzer downed German Julian Reister 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and German Dustin Brown doused the 2002 Wimbledon champ and former world No. 1 Hewitt 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.
"I cried like a little girl," Brown said after beating the two-time major champion Hewitt.
The second round is scheduled to conclude on Thursday, including a match for the reigning Aussie Open champion and 2011 Wimbledon titlist Djokovic, who will take on American journeyman Bobby Reynolds.
Other top-10 seeds on the Day-4 slate are No. 4 French Open runner-up David Ferrer, No. 7 former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych, No. 8 former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and No. 9 Frenchman Richard Gasquet.