27 Jun 2013

Ukrainian says he also had to beat Federer's "ego"

8:32 am on 27 June 2013

A little-known Ukrainian tennis player, ranked a lowly 116th in the world, has knocked out defending men's champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon - and then Sergiy Stakhovsky had a crack at the Swiss great's ego.

Stakhovsky says when you play Federer at Wimbledon it's like playing two people, Federer himself and then the seven-time champion's ego, as Federer is "historical" on the grass courts of London.

The Ukrainian presumably meant "historic" as he upset the third seeded 31-year-old in four sets, but doubtless the talk of Federer's decline will increase, as will speculation of his retirement after 17 grand slam titles.

Federer was joined in a second-round exit by Maria Sharapova, as a record number of withdrawals plagued the third day in London.

The Russian third seed Sharapova lost in straight sets to a Portugese qualifier, Michelle Larcher de Brito, the world number 131's victory technically an even bigger upset than Stakhovsky's over Federer.

The twin defeats mean that just three days into Wimbledon, three of the top six men's seeds and two of the top three women have been either beaten or withdrawn from the championship with injury.

The day already seemed surreal after seven players withdrew or retired injured, including Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, French ace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal's conqueror Steve Darcis.

The second women's seed Azarenka called on Wimbledon organisers to examine the state of the courts after she was unable to take the court for her second round match, having failed to recover from a bad fall in her opening round match.

It is the first edition of the tournament since the retirement of long-time head groundsman Eddie Seaward, but a Wimbledon spokesman said there was nothing different about the courts this year.

And the three-time former champion Boris Becker has defended the organisers, insisting that the grass courts have always been a bit slippery for the first couple of matches.