LONDON – Roger Federer’s hopes of retaining his Wimbledon title came to a rather premature end when he was humbled by Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 7-6 (7/5) in the second round today.
On a day of big-name exits at SW 19, Federer’s departure was the most surprising of all as he went down to a player ranked 116 in the world.
The defeat ends a run of 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances by the Swiss while it is his earliest exit from a major since losing in the first round of the French Open 10 years ago.
It also continues to clear the way for British hope Andy Murray to reach the final at SW19 for a second successive year — the Brit booked his place in the third round earlier today with a routine win over Lu Yen-Hsun.Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, two potential opponents for the second seed further down the line, were both forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
Rafael Nadal — who had been scheduled to meet Federer in the last eight had they both progressed that far — had already been dumped out in the opening round by Belgian Steve Darcis.
Murray defeated unseeded Lu Yen-hsun 6-3 6-3 7-5 on Court One.
The world No 2 produced a professional display against his Chinese Taipei counterpart and his reward is a third round date with Spanish 32nd seed Tommy Robredo.
Murray’s prospects of landing a major Wimbledon title improved while he was on court when potential quarter-final opponent Tsonga pulled out of the tournament due to injury.
Sixth-seeded Tsonga defeated seven-time champion Roger Federer at the All England Club two years ago but retired when trailing Ernests Gulbis 6-3 3-6 3-6 in their second round clash, citing a knee injury.
Murray lost to Lu in the first round of the Beijing Olympics back in 2008 and was forced to fend off three early break points before claiming the solitary break of the opening set in the sixth game.
An ace handed the Scot first blood and he cranked his level up a notch in the second set, threatening to break each of Lu’s service games, before doing so at the third time of asking in the ninth game courtesy of a double fault.
Qualifier Michelle Larcher De Brito caused a huge shock by defeating third seed Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-4. The 131 ranked player rom Portugal capitalised on five double faults sent down by the 2004 champion to win through in an hour and 34 minutes.
Sharapova saved three match points but after being broken early in the second set Larcher De Brito ensured there was no way back.
The Russian was not the first player this week to require a medical time out after she slipped midway through the second set, appearing to suffer a knee injury.
In fairness she never looked happy on Court Two against a tenacious opponent who, like Sharapova, hails from the Bolletieri academy in Florida.
Until now Larcher De Brito had been best known for her high-pitched screech that arguably outdid Sharapova’s famous shriek.
Her victory blows the bottom half of the draw wide open with second seed Victoria Azarenka, fifth seed Sara Errani, ninth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and 12th seed Ana Ivanovic already out of the tournament.
Meanwhile Nadal’s conqueror Steve Darcis and No 10 seed Marin Cilic have withdrawn from Wimbledon through injury.
Darcis’ coach Reginald Willem had warned that it was unlikely the Belgian would be able to play his second-round clash with Poland’s Lukasz Kubot.
And the ATP, the governors of the men’s tennis tour, confirmed that a right shoulder problem had forced him out of the event shortly before he was due on court.
The 29-year-old caused the shock of the first round at the All England Club, knocking out 12-time grand slam winner Nadal in straight sets.
It emerged that Darcis injured his shoulder during the match against Nadal, the biggest win of his career.
Coach Willems said the injury had left him unable to move his arm prior.
Speaking before the official announcement arrived, Willems told Belgian publication Sudpresse: “There is a 99 per cent chance that Steve will not play his second match.”
Meanwhile, Cilic has also been forced out with an injury to his left knee. (Sky)