Seppi stuns Federer to reach last 16
Originally published on 23/01/15
The Italian world No.46 snapped a 10-match winless streak against the Swiss to claim a shock 6-4 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(5) victory on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer needed four sets to beat Simone Bolelli in the second round after dropping the opening set, and it looked like it might be a similar story against another Italian opponent when he took a 5-3 lead in the second set tiebreak. However, Seppi stormed back, winning six of the last seven points to clinch the tiebreak for a two-set lead.
The No.2 seed looked to be back on track when he claimed an early break en route to winning the third set, dropping just four points on serve in the process. But after a nervy fourth set, in which neither player gave an inch, Seppi produced a moment of brilliance in the tiebreak to wrap up a shock victory.
A huge inside-out forehand on the line, which Federer challenged unsuccessfully, set up match point, and just as it looked like the Swiss had buried a winner, Seppi produced a sensational forehand passing shot down the line to condemn Federer to his earliest defeat in Melbourne since 2001.
"The way he hits it you think, this can't possibly land in," said Federer of Seppi's winner on match point. "You kind of go and you're there and you're like, no, I'm going to let it go. As you're telling yourself that, you look behind you and you already know it's done. It's clearly a big blow because I actually hit my forehand pretty good.
"It was just a bad day. I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two sets. I had chances to get back into it but I let it slip both times. I guess I won the wrong points out there today. I knew how important that second set tiebreaker was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn't pretty. Just a disappointing loss, you know."
The result also denied any chance of a fourth-round blockbuster clash between Federer and local teenager Nick Kyrgios as the world No.2 was left to rue an uncharacteristic 55 unforced errors, including nine double faults. Seppi will meet either Kyrgios or Tunisia's Malek Jaziri for a place in the quarter-finals.