Barely 24 hours had passed after Rafael Nadal’s shock first round exit from Wimbledon before crowds at SW19 were stunned again as Roger Federer was sent packing on Wednesday afternoon.
The Swiss set out on Centre Court for what appeared to be a routine second round clash against World No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine however the reigning champion was caught napping by a player who thrived on the atmosphere to produce the performance of his life and record a monumental 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6 victory.
Few would have given the 27-year-old a prayer before the first ball was served and a rollover certainly seemed inevitable after Federer eked out a hard fought first set.
But instead of allowing his head to fall as so many lower ranked players do when behind against the big guns, Stakhovsky intensified his play further and began to overrun a sluggish looking Federer who, on the evidence of this particular clash, is a long way past his physical peak.
Stakhovsky’s energy and somewhat unorthodox style seemed to win over a large percentage of the Centre Court spectatorship that are of course extremely fond and supportive of Federer year upon year.
And a heroic standing ovation was given to the man from Kiev who fell to the court floor in disbelief on match point after Federer shanked a relatively standard backhand wide, a shot which typified his under par, lifeless display.
The result will perhaps be seen as good news for Andy Murray who will also avoid an encounter with Jo Wilfred Tsonga later in the tournament after the Frenchman was forced to withdraw midway through his second round match against Ernests Gulbis.
Tsonga was trailing two sets to one after having already received treatment and was visibly disappointed to throw in the towel.
Former champion and people’s favourite Lleyton Hewitt could not build upon his straight sets defeat of Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round, the Aussie going down in four sets to Dustin Brown of Germany, however his compatriot Bernard Tomic is through to the last 32 following a convincing straight sets win over American James Blake.
Elsewhere in the Men’s draw, there were straight sets victories for seeds Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro over Daniel Brands and Jesse Levine, whilst World No.1 Novak Djokovic breezed past Bobby Reynolds 7-6 6-3 6-1.
In the Women’s draw, third seed Maria Sharapova suffered a seismic loss to qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito but blamed the court conditions after falling badly in the middle of play.
The Russian follows second seed Victoria Azarenka out of the tournament after the Belarusian cited injury from her first round match, which she also controversially pinned on the current court conditions at SW19.
Serena Williams’ task of retaining the Wimbledon crown has undoubtedly been made far easier by the departure of her two main rivals and she made no mistake in her second round tie with Caroline Garcia romping to a 6-2 6-3 success in just over an hour.