Roger Federer and “his ego” took an unbelievable battering at the hands of a little-known Ukrainian as the Swiss champion and holder of a record 17 grand slam titles was sent spinning out of Wimbledon on a day dubbed as ‘Whacky Wednesday’.
A record that took 36 grand slams and nine years to create was turned on its head by 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky who rocked the All England Club to its core as he inflicted a brutal 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-5 7-6(5) second-round defeat on a man he called a “Wimbledon legend”.
That ‘legend’ had enjoyed a remarkable run of reaching 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals or better dating back to 2004, won seven titles at the spiritual home of lawn tennis and had not lost to a rival ranked outside the top 100 for over eight years.
It took a serve-and-volley loving man who had never beaten a top 15 player in his 27-year-old life to shatter the glass ceiling.
“I’m still in disbelief that actually happened,” a sweat-drenched Stakhovsky said moments after rolling on the most famous tennis stage in triumph.
“When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon, it’s like you’re playing two persons. First you play Roger Federer and then you play his ego.”
Federer’s ego certainly took a hammering on a beautiful summer’s day that started off routinely for the Swiss great as he nonchalantly ambled into the All England Club holding the hands of his twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.
“All time craziest days at Wimbledon – ever!” exclaimed a disbelieving John McEnroe.
Federer has suffered some painful defeats in his life, including the thrilling five-set final in 2008 against great rival Rafa Nadal, but he could not mask his pain on Wednesday.
“It’s always a disappointment losing any match around the world, and particularly here. It was a tough loss today. Some haven’t hurt this much, that’s for sure,” Federer told reporters after discarding his on court all-whites for a striped t-shirt and sky-blue jeans.
“It’s a great number (36). I can be proud of it… but that’s (not) something (I am) going to mourn,” added the third seed, whose defeat left a gaping hole in the bottom half of the draw following Nadal’s departure in the first round.
No one could have predicted such an outcome when Federer had serenely glided through the first set by firing down nine aces, no double faults and 20 winners.