Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova upset at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England -- For 9 1/2 years, 36 consecutive events, Roger Federer had never failed to reach the quarterfinals in any Grand Slam tennis tournament. But this Wimbledon he couldn't get past the second round.
A 27-year-old from the Ukraine, Sergiy Stakhovsky, 116th in the world rankings, defeated Federer, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5), a stunning conclusion to a long Wednesday afternoon of upsets, upset competitors and withdrawals.
A seven-time Wimbledon champion and winner of a record 17 Slams, the 31-year-old Federer was outhit and outmaneuvered by Stakhovsky, who seemed as overwhelmed by the result as the crowd at Centre Court.
"I couldn't find a way," Federer said. "I had a foot in the door, but I couldn't do it. I struggled on the big points like I have this season, missing opportunities. I'm happy about the number 36, but I wish it wasn't going to end here."
What also ended on the third day of the most surprising Wimbledon in recent memory were the hopes of Maria Sharapova, who held the same seeding, third, on the women's side as Federer did on the men's. Sharapova was beaten by an even lower ranked player than Federer, losing to No. 131 Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, 6-3, 6-4.
"She's someone who plays extremely aggressive," said Sharapova of the 20-year-old Larcher de Brito, who is a qualifier for this tournament. "I just wasn't there."
That line was literally true for so many of the players who for one reason or another withdrew or retired during the day. That group included the women's second seed Victoria Azarenka, who pulled out of what would have been the day's first match on Centre Court against Flavia Pennetta because of a knee injury incurred when Azarenka fell on Monday.
Steve Darcis, who on Monday defeated No. 5 seed and two-time champ Rafael Nadal, announced he couldn't play because of a right shoulder injured when he dove for a ball. Like that, the man who beat one of the stars was gone shortly before another star, Federer.
John Isner, who three years ago here made history by winning a match from Nicolas Mahut that lasted 11 hours and 183 games, went only two plus games against Adrian Mannarino before his left knee went out.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga trailed 2-1 to Ernests Gulbis before departing because of his own knee problem. Radek Stepanek was into a third set against Jerzy Janowicz when he said the effects of the flu caused him to quit. And Marin Cilic, hobbled by a knee, was a no-show for his match against Kenny De Schepper.
"A black day," surmised Cilic. And that was before Sharapova and Federer even hit a shot.
Sharapova was among the many who said the show courts, which are not available to anyone until Day 1, were slippery. She fell three times Wednesday, and said "It was dangerous."
Stakhovsky didn't have trouble with the grass or with Federer, after losing the first set that is. He played the serve-and-volley game rarely utilized anymore.
"At least somebody can play that still," Stakhovsky said. "Well, you can't really keep up with Roger on grass on baseline rallies. It's just impossible, I would say, especially here.
"The only tactics I have is press as hard as I can on my serve and come in as much as I can. The shorter [the point] is, the less rhythm he got. I mean, it's my first win of the top 10. Beating Roger here on his court, where he's a legend, is I think having definitely a special place in my career."