Swiss number one Roger Federer has suffered a shock defeat in the opening round of the UBS Open in Gstaad. Less than a week after reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, the Basel teenager was blasted off court in straight sets (6-2, 6-1) by Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic.
Despite being more than 50 places lower than Federer in the world rankings, Ljubicic (ATP 70) looked more than capable of causing an upset on Tuesday. Combining a strong service game with some wonderfully executed groundstrokes, the Croatian managed to break Federer four times without reply to wrap up victory in just 50 minutes.
The result maintains Federer's jinx in Gstaad. Ever since making his senior debut in the Bernese Oberland three years ago, the Swiss player has been unable to progress beyond the tournament's opening round.
"That's what I really wanted to do this year," a disappointed Federer told swissinfo. "It was all looking good for me, especially after playing so well at the French Open and at Wimbledon. But I just had too many things against me today. I have a slight leg injury, I'm feeling tired and I was also facing a good opponent."
Having returned to Switzerland a hero following his exploits in Wimbledon, Federer found himself stepping off court on Tuesday to the sound of whistles from some sections of the crowd. Although he may not have appreciated the reaction, the Swiss number one said he could at least understand the emotion behind it.
"It was just a few people, but I'm as disappointed as they are," Federer insisted. "I was expecting a lot more from today than just winning three games. I apologise to the tournament director for what happened today, but hopefully I can come back and play a lot better next year."
Clearly this hasn't been the best week to take on Croatians. Having watched Goran Ivanisevic conquer Wimbledon on Monday, Ljubicic said his good friend's triumph had been an inspiration ahead of the Federer match.
"I spoke with Goran this morning," Ljubicic explained. "And the first thing he did was ask me about my game against Roger. I said 'Come on, man! We're talking about Wimbledon and your dream'. I was crying watching his match on Monday and the way he's playing is definitely giving me more energy for my tennis."
The publication of the latest world rankings on Tuesday at least brought Federer some consolation, with the Swiss number one climbing up one place to 14th. The mid-term aim of a place in the top ten remains a credible goal for the rising star, even allowing for the odd day like today.
by Mark Ledsom, Gstaad