For Roger Federer, it was one big blur. The seven-time champion was ousted from one of his favorite tournaments in barely over an hour, falling in straight sets to a 21-year-old qualifier he’d never faced.
Andrey Rublev — with only one career win over a top-five player to his credit — took advantage of Federer’s numerous mistakes for a 6-3, 6-4 victory Thursday that further depleted the top of the men’s bracket in the Western & Southern Open.
“The biggest and the most emotional win,” Rublev called it.
And shockingly fast too: Federer’s quickest defeat on the tour since 2003.
“To be honest, it’s tough when it’s fast like this to tell you, well, I could have done this or that,” Federer said.
Federer has won the tournament more than anyone, using it as a springboard to the U.S. Open. He had 16 unforced errors against the 70th-ranked Rublev, who raised both fists and wiped a teary eye in celebration after Federer’s forehand sailed long to end it.
Struggling with his serve, Federer got broken twice in the first set.
“It set the tone for the match a little bit,” Federer said. “He was super clean — offense, defense, serving well. He didn’t give me anything.”
Federer, who lost a classic five-set match for the Wimbledon title to Novak Djokovic, thinks he’s in good shape heading into the U.S. Open despite the upset in Cincinnati.
“I played 45 matches this year, so I think I should be fine,” he said, smiling.