Roger Federer suffers shock loss in Dubai, blows three match points against world No. 116
In his second match since winning the Australian Open, Roger Federer suffered a shock defeat in Dubai, losing a second-round match to world No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5). The loss itself was shocking enough but how it went down was even more so:
• Federer lost on a hard court to a player outside the top 100 for the first time since 2000, a week after his 19th birthday and when he was ranked No. 40 in the world.
• The 18-time Grand Slam champion had three match points in the second set.
• He was up 5-2 (one break) in the third set.
• He was up 5-1 in the third-set tiebreaker.
• He lost the last six points of the match.
• Federer was broken at 5-5 in the third and then broke Donskoy at love to force that tiebreak.
• In the final point of that 5-5 game, Federer challenged a ball that was at least a foot long. Strategically it didn’t matter too much but had the same chance of success as challenging a ball that hit the middle of the net.
this is Roger Federer's latest effort with the challenge system. No line is even in sight, folks. pic.twitter.com/en0jhWZXTu
— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) March 1, 2017
• This was only Federer’s fourth loss to a player ranked higher than 100 in the last 15 seasons. His record against such competition: 113-4.
• In his last match before arriving in Dubai, Donskoy lost 6-1, 6-1 to the 128th-ranked player in the world.
• All of Donskoy’s losses in 2017 (seven in total) have come to players ranked in the triple digits. He had three wins against players in the top 100 (two of which came against the same opponent – Mikhail Youzhny).
• Donskoy has won seven Grand Slam matches in his career. Federer won seven at this year’s Australian Open (and 314 overall).
• The Russian had one career win against a player in the top 20 and no victories against a player in the top 10.
• Unlike in other upset situations (see: most Serena Williams losses), the favorite didn’t give away the match as much as the opponent took it. Donskoy was fearless when facing the match points (and the virtual match points when Federer was two points away from victory in the third-set breaker). At 3-5, the 26-year-old slapped a winner off Federer’s serve and didn’t receive the benefit of an unforced error until Federer sprayed a forehand on match point.
• When Federer has struggled in the past few years, it often comes in matches in which he can’t convert break points. He was 4/5 on Wednesday.
• Federer has won the Dubai tournament seven times and had been 48-5 there entering his match with Donskoy.
• Next up for Federer is the second-biggest tournament in the U.S. – next week’s BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.