PARIS (AP) Roger Federer finally cracked under the unrelenting serve of John Inser, losing 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (5) to the American in the third round of the Paris Masters on Thursday.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion looked like he might grind out a win, saving all six break points and fighting back from 6-2 down in the decisive tiebreaker. But the Swiss star’s resistance ended when Isner – who had 27 aces in the match – hit a looping serve to Federer’s backhand on his next match point.
”It’s tough going out of a tournament without losing your serve, but that’s what happened,” the third-seeded Federer said. ”I’m not sure what I could have done differently.”
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Having won his sixth title of the season and 88th of his career at the Swiss Indoors last Sunday, and after racing past Italian Andreas Seppi in just 47 minutes on Wednesday, Federer was full of confidence. Even more so given he held a 5-1 lead over Isner in their career meetings, beating him most recently in the U.S. Open fourth round.
”At the U.S. Open I won my tiebreaks (against Isner) and here I lost them,” said Federer.
He was nevertheless generous in praising Isner, who saved a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a clean backhand volley.
”With him it’s whether he can serve big whenever he needs most,” Federer said. ”I thought he did very well today when he needed it. I thought he served great.”
Federer briefly needed treatment at the start of the second set because of a sore arm, but quickly recovered.
”I was just feeling my arm, but it didn’t affect me in the third set and it’s not serious,” he said.
The 13th-seeded Isner next faces eighth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain.
Earlier, Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 19 matches and advanced to the quarterfinals by beating 14th-seeded Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-5,
The top-ranked Serb’s victory came with some sloppy serving, however, as the 10-time Grand Slam champion was broken five times.
”It happens. In sport there are days when you just lose your rhythm. You’re trying a bit too much and you lose a bit of confidence,” Djokovic said. ”It was frustrating, I can assure you, losing four service games in (the second) set … It hasn’t happened to me for a long time.”
Djokovic was doing better on the other side of the net.
”I returned well entire match. I didn’t give him too much room to improve his game,” the 28-year-old Serb said. ”I feel like I have a good chance from the baseline against anyone.”
Djokovic will next face either fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic or No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
”Better servers than Gilles, definitely, both of the guys and more power from the groundstrokes,” Djokovic said. ”I’m ready for heavy artillery.”
Andy Murray had a far easier match on the way to the last eight after routing David Goffin 6-1, 6-0 in a prelude to the Davis Cup final later this month.
Murray lost only eight points on his serve and broke the 16th-seeded Belgian five times.
”It was good for me to get the chance to play him before the Davis Cup and see his game and the speed of his shots and where he maybe makes some mistakes from and things that he likes to do,” Murray said. ”Obviously with the result, that’s a positive. I mean, mentally for me it’s a positive win.”
The second-seeded Murray will next face Richard Gasquet of France, who advanced when Kei Nishikori of Japan retired while trailing 7-6 (3), 4-1. Nishikori received a back massage at the changeover before stopping in the next game.