Not even the best tennis tipster in the world would have backed Roger Federer being eliminated from the Australian Open in the third round after losing to Andreas Seppi on Friday in Melbourne. It’s the first time in a dozen years the Swiss Champion won’t feature in the Australian Open semi-finals.
Federer entered the tournament as the second seed, and lost in four sets to the unseeded Italian. Seppi came into the match having lost all 10 of his previous matches against the 17-time grand slam champion, snatching just one set in the process.
Federer dropped the first two sets, then rallied in the third, beating Seppi 6-4. The fourth set went to a tiebreaker, but Federer could not capitalize on multiple mini-breaks. “I wish I could have played better,” Federer said at his post-match news conference. Federer is now 1-6 when falling behind two sets to none in the Australian Open. His only comeback victory came back in 2009, when he ousted Tomas Berdych. Seppi had nothing but positive things to say about Federer following the match. “It was one of my best matches for sure, or else I couldn’t win against Roger,” he told ESPN. “It was fun to play in front of a full stadium.” Federer said: “I guess I won the wrong points out there today, it wasn’t pretty, you know.” Seppi, who will turn 31 next month and has played professionally since 2001, has never gotten past the fourth round in any Grand Slam tournament. He has won only three ATP Tour events and his highest world ranking was 18th, achieved two years ago but this day certainly belonged to Seppi. “It was an overall feeling out there today, that I couldn’t get my full game going,” Federer said. 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.
In other Day 5 action, another top-10 seed narrowly escaped an upset when No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov overcame Marcos Baghdatis in five sets, winning 6-3 in the fifth. No. 6 Andy Murray and No. 7 Tomas Berdych scored straight-set victories. For the women, third-seeded Simona Halep, No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 10 Elena Makarova won in straight sets, while 14th-seeded Sara Errani needed three sets to defeat Yanina Wickmayer.
On the other side of the draw, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have reached the third round with a minimum of fuss. The two world No 1s dropped only five games each against Russian opponents where as Stan Wawrinka, who is defending the men’s singles title, was not at his best but was too good for the Romanian qualifier, Marius Copil winning in straight sets with Kei Nishikori recovering from a slow start to beat Ivan Dodig in four sets.