Swiss number one Roger Federer has suffered a three sets defeat in the final of the Rotterdam ATP tennis tournament, losing to French qualifier Nicolas Escudé on a tie-break.
Federer came into Sunday's match as the strong favourite but soon found himself in difficulty, losing the first set 7-5 after failing to convert any one of the 11 break ball chances presented to him.
The Basel teenager struck back in the second set, taking it 6-3. But as the match headed towards a knife-edge finish it was Escudé who proved the sharpest.
The Frenchman won the deciding tie-break 7-5 to deny Federer a second ATP title less than a month after his triumph at the Milan Indoors tournament.
Afterwards Federer described the Rotterdam final as "a great disappointment."
"It's a shame," he continued, "that I couldn't end this fantastic week with another title."
Despite the latest setback, Federer is currently playing some of the best tennis of his budding career. As well as Sunday's final and the title in Milan, the 19-year-old has reached the quarter-finals of this season's Sydney Open and the semi-finals of the ATP tournament in Marseille.
In Rotterdam, Federer admitted that his busy schedule had tired him somewhat but refused to offer exhaustion as an excuse for Sunday's defeat.
"I've been tired all through this tournament," he said, "and the Davis Cup [win over the United States] certainly took a lot out of me. But my condition didn't play a decisive role here. In fact I've been feeling stronger with each new match."
swissinfo with agencies