Federer’s conqueror is defeated
LONDON -- The player who stunned Roger Federer in one of Wimbledon’s greatest upsets didn’t stick around very long.
Two days after eliminating the seven-time champion on Centre Court, Sergiy Stakhovsky fell to Jurgen Melzer in four sets Friday in the third round at the All England Club.
The 116th-ranked Ukrainian couldn’t replicate the serve-and-volley magic that stifled Federer, losing 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to the left-handed Austrian. While Federer struggled with Stakhovsky’s serve, Melzer broke him six times.
"I’m just a little disappointed that I got so blinded by the game I produced with Roger that I kept going with the same game I played against Jurgen, which was just not right," Stakhovsky said.
Stakhovsky, who called for the trainer and had his right ankle taped in the first set, kept coming to the net even though Melzer was zeroing in on his serve.
"I think I just played stupid," the Ukrainian said.
Doing everything right so far has been second-seeded Andy Murray, who trounced Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 under the Centre Court roof to cruise into the fourth round. The U.S. Open champion hasn’t dropped a set this week in his bid to become the first British player to win the men’s trophy in 77 years.
"I played my best match of the tournament so far," said Murray, who no longer has Federer or Rafael Nadal in his half of the draw and remains on course to meet No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final.
Advancing to the third round were fourth-seeded David Ferrer and No. 13 Tommy Haas. No. 15 Nicolas Almagro was knocked out by Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in a third-round match.
Among the women, No. 7 Angelique Kerber was ousted in three sets in second-round play by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. Kerber became the sixth player among the top-10 seeded women to go out.
With four of the top 10 men also gone after the second round, it equals the worst performance by the top 10 at any Grand Slam in the 45-year history of the Open era.
For the second straight day, play was disrupted by rain and the sliding roof was closed over Centre Court. Four men’s singles matches didn’t start and were rescheduled for Saturday, while three women’s singles matches were suspended by darkness.
Among the uncompleted matches, 2011 champion and eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova was down a break in the third set to Ekaterina Makarova, 3-6, 6-2, 2-1.
In a tournament jolted by a rash of injuries and upsets, the player who caused the biggest surprise of them all came crashing back to earth.
Stakhovsky had snapped Federer’s streak of reaching 36 Grand Slam quarterfinals on Wednesday, beating perhaps the game’s greatest all-time player on the biggest stage in the sport.
On Friday, he was out on Court 3 and couldn’t maintain his level of play against Melzer, a 32-year-old all-court player who has reached at least the fourth round of every Grand Slam.
Still, Stakhovsky will always have that momentous victory to hold onto.
"Nobody is going to take it away from me," he said. "If someone would ask me, ‘Would you rather beat Roger and lose in next round?’ I would always take it, obviously."
Stakhovsky said he struggled to cope with all the distractions and media interviews that came his way after the Federer match.
"It was quite hard for me because yesterday was a busy day," he said. "Everybody wanted to chat. Everybody wanted a piece. It just takes some time and energy off."
Melzer said he didn’t care about the pressures on Stakhovsky and just came into the match ready to beat him with his serve returns.
"You go out there and show him that I’m not Roger Federer and I can return his serve and make him play tough volleys," he said. "That was my goal today."
Murray was dominant in beating the 29th-ranked Robredo. It was Murray’s 14th straight match win on grass, a run that goes back to last year’s London Olympics, where he beat Federer for the gold medal.
Murray lost serve only once and finished with 40 winners against 14 errors.
"I struck the ball very well from the start of the match," he said. "I had a lot of winners tonight and that was probably the most pleasing part because I did not serve very well on the first couple of matches. I hope I can keep playing better."
Murray will next face either No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny or Viktor Troicki.
In other men’s play, Ferrer won an all-Spanish encounter against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the third round for a sixth consecutive year.
Ferrer advanced with a scrappy 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 win in a match originally scheduled for Thursday but pushed back because of rain. He will next face No. 26 Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Melzer will face Janowicz, who served 30 aces and beat Almagro 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time.
Only six men and four women -- 10 total -- among the top 10 seeds reached the third round -- tying the performance at Wimbledon in 1996 (four men, six women) and the French Open in 1998 (two men, eight women).
It’s the worst performance by the top 10 women’s seeds at any Slam in the Open era. The previous low was five at the 2001 French Open.
In another twist, this tournament has produced the fewest five-set matches (12) over the first two rounds at Wimbledon in the Open era. The previous record was 13 in 1981.
Britain’s Laura Robson beat 117th-ranked Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino 6-4, 6-1 under the Centre Court roof to reach Wimbledon’s third round for the first time.
Robson, who won the Wimbledon girls’ title in 2008, has steadily climbed the rankings and has a good chance of getting into the second week.
"It’s a big win for me," Robson said. "Any match on Centre Court is a big one. It was a great atmosphere out there today, and the roof being closed just makes it louder."
Among the early casualties in the men’s draw was Grigor Dimitrov, one of the rising stars in tennis. He was eliminated in the second round in a five-set, rain-delayed match that lasted more than four hours over two days.
With girlfriend Maria Sharapova cheering him from the stands on Court 3, the 29th-seeded Bulgarian fell to 55th-ranked Slovenian Grega Zemlja 3-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
Zemlja hit a forehand passing shot on his sixth match point to become the first Slovenian to reach the third round at the All England Club.
Dimitrov is known as "Baby Fed" for a playing style, especially his one-handed backhand in the manner of Roger Federer’s. But like Federer, Dimitrov failed to get to Round 3.
"Things happen I guess for a reason," Dimitrov said. "But it’s a good learning curve for me. I’m going to step out strong for the upcoming weeks."
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