Tennis world number one Roger Federer has lost to Italian wild card Filippo Volandri 6-2, 6-4 in the third round of the Rome Masters.This content was published on May 10, 2007 - 17:09
The defeat extends the Swiss's title drought to four straight tournaments, the worst stretch of Federer's career since becoming number one in February 2004.
Federer last won the Dubai Tennis Championships in March. He has since failed to win the Indian Wells Masters in California, the Miami Masters in Florida and the Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco.
"I don't know what's wrong. I have to analyse it myself," Federer said. "It was over too soon for me today."
Federer often missed routine baseline shots and his body language conveyed little will to compete.
He hit only two winners with his forehand, normally his best shot, and made 44 unforced errors to the 23 by Volandri, currently number 53 in the world.
Federer's ability is usually enough, even on bad days. "It happens a lot, but sometimes I get through them," he said.
Federer dropped his serve twice in the first three games and quickly lost control of the first set. In the second set, Volandri broke to take a 2-1 lead when Federer made four errors.
On Volandri's first match point, Federer hit a forehand into the net.
"I was always running behind the score," Federer said. "The crowd didn't affect me much because nothing happened. It's just a disappointing loss."
Federer arrived in Rome more than a week before the tournament started to step up his clay-court training.
"I was the first player to arrive. My preparation was perfect," he said. "But let's not forget that Filippo played well today. Give the guy credit."
This tournament is a key clay-court warm-up for the French Open, which begins May 27, the only Grand Slam title that Federer hasn't won (see swissinfo's Roger Federer dossier).
Federer now has only the Hamburg Masters before the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris.
"Of course I've got to sit down and look at what went wrong, but it's not the end of the world – I've now got more time to train for Hamburg," he said.
Third-ranked Andy Roddick's run also came to a halt on Thursday, losing to 23rd-ranked Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-4.
swissinfo with agencies
Federer has yet to equal Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles - he has ten - the Swiss has many other records under his belt.
This includes the highest number of ranking points at the end of the year – 8,370 in 2006 – and the most prize money in one season $8,343,885 (SFr10,135,000), also in 2006.
Earlier this year Federer beat the record for the longest unbroken reign as world number one, overtaking Jimmy Connors' 30-year-old milestone of 160 weeks. Federer has been in pole position since February 2, 2004.
In April Federer became the first living person to be honoured with a special stamp by the Swiss Post.
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