With all due respect to Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic, the two biggest tennis stars in the world are still Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and now, for the first time since the French Open in 2003, both of them are out before the third round.
In what might turn out to be the strangest Wimbledon since Goran Ivanesivic lifted the trophy, entering the tournament as a wild card, the two giants of Tennis, who have won a combined 29 Grand Slam titles since 2003, are knocked out by two players that aren’t up & comers, but simply guys who never really made it very far in the ATP Tour.
It began on the first day with 29-year old Belgian player Steven Darcis, who at his best was ranked 44th in the world, back in 2008. Rafael Nadal didn’t appear injured until the third set, but it may be just desperation after going down 0-2 in the first two sets. He ended up losing 7-6, 7-6, 6-4, making his first ever first round exit in a Grand Slam tournament, and a second consecutive disastrous Wimbledon, after getting knocked out in the second round a year ago.
It went a little bit better for Federer, at least on the first day, beating Victor Hanescu in three sets, showing that on grass, he still has what it takes to get some easy, eye-pleasing wins. But he didn’t plan well enough for Serhiy Stakhovsky, the 27-year old Ukrainian, ranked 116th in the world, and at his best was 31st, 3 years ago.
From the beginning, the big serving player gave Federer a lot of trouble with his serve & volley style, which isn’t so common these days on the grass courts or anywhere else. Federer did win the tiebreak in the first set, but lost it in the second, and struggled with the big serves and big hitting from Stakhovsky for the rest of the match, eventually losing 7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7, exiting on a day that also had seeded players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, John Isner and Julien Benneteau exit the tournament.
The last time Federer didn’t make a Grand Slam quarterfinal was the 2004 French Open. A year earlier was the last time Federer wasn’t in the third round of a grand slam tournament, losing in the first round of the Roland Garros. No matter how you look at it, it seemed like a certain era in Men’s tennis ended in the last few days, with an unclear future as to who will take their places in the top 4, if there will actually will be such a thing in men’s tennis in the near future.