‘It Was Magic’: The Day Stakhovsky Ended Federer’s Historic Run

Roger Federer arrived at Wimbledon in 2013 as the defending champion, seeking his eighth crown at the All England Club. But the Swiss, who had reached the quarter-finals or better in his past 36 Grand Slam appearances, was eliminated in the second round by World No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky on Centre Court.

Federer entered the second-round clash in form, having lifted his sixth title at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle with back-to-back victories against Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny. In the opening match of his title defence at the All England Club, Federer dropped just five games to cruise past Victor Hanescu in 69 minutes.

But Stakhovsky played a traditional serve-and-volley style to record his first victory in 21 attempts against Top 10 opposition and only his third win at Wimbledon. The result added to a dramatic opening three days at SW19, following two-time winner Rafael Nadal’s first-round exit against Steve Darcis.

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In the early stages, it was Federer who played his best tennis in the big moments. The defending champion saved a break point at 5-5 in the opening set, before clinching the opener with a pinpoint serve out wide.

But despite the disappointment of dropping the first set, Stakhovsky trusted his high-risk strategy to claim the next three sets and earn a stunning victory. As Federer fired a backhand into the tramline, the Ukrainian fell to the turf of Centre Court to celebrate his 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) victory.

“It was magic, I couldn’t play any better today,” said Stakhovsky. “Every important point I played well and I served and volleyed incredibly well.”

After exactly three hours, Stakhovsky became the lowest-ranked player to defeat Federer at a Grand Slam event since No. 154 Mario Ancic’s straight-sets win at SW19 in 2002. The 6’4” right-hander also became the first player to beat Federer in the opening two rounds of a Grand Slam since the Swiss became a major champion for the first time at 2003 Wimbledon.

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Following the loss, Federer reflected on his streak of 36 Grand Slam quarter-final appearances from 2004 Wimbledon to 2013 Roland Garros.

“It’s normal that after all of a sudden losing early, having been in Grand Slam quarter-finals 36 [straight] times, people feel it’s different,” said Federer.

Since that second-round defeat, Federer has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his six Wimbledon appearances. The Swiss captured his eighth Wimbledon trophy in 2017 without dropping a set. Stakhovsky struggled to replicate the form he showcased against Federer in his next match. The 27-year-old dropped serve on six occasions to lose in four sets to Jurgen Melzer on No. 3 Court.