Roger Federer suffered a shock loss to Tommy Robredo at the US Open on Monday, ruining the prospect of a meeting with Rafael Nadal at the only Grand Slam where the two greats have never played each other.
In the biggest upset of the tournament, Robredo demolished a badly out-of-sorts Federer 7-6 (7/3) 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round, marking the first time in a decade the Swiss master has fallen before the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows in New York.
“I kind of feel like I beat myself, without taking any credit away from Tommy,” a dejected Federer told reporters. “I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing, especially on a quicker court. I just couldn’t do it. It was a frustrating performance today.”
As expected, Nadal safely made it through, recovering after losing a set for the first time in the tournament to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 at an electrified Arthur Ashe Stadium.
However, Nadal’s win was overshadowed by Federer’s unforeseen loss against a player he had beaten in each of their 10 previous meetings, spoiling what was looming as the first meeting between the pair in the Big Apple.
“Two times we were one point away. This time we were one match away, but it’s always the same,” Nadal said. “When I see the draw, I think about my first round. If I win, I think about my second. That’s it. I don’t see the quarter-finals or the fourth round before the first round. You know how tough is every tournament, every match.”
Robredo was almost as surprised as everyone else after one of the biggest wins of his career.
“It’s amazing,” Robredo said. “For me, Roger, for the moment, is the best player of all time and to beat him in a huge stadium like the US Open, and in a Grand Slam... it’s like a dream.”
There was an omen even before the match began when officials moved it from the center court to the smaller Louis Armstrong Stadium following a five-hour rain delay.
US Open champion for five straight years from 2004, the last time Federer played a match away from Arthur Ashe Stadium was in 2006, but he refused to blame the court switch for a performance that will raise fresh speculation whether he is capable of adding to his record 17 Grand Slam victories.
“That should not be the issue,” Federer said. “That’s definitely the last excuse you could find.”
Robredo next faces Nadal in the quarters, ensuring there will be at least one Spaniard in the semi-finals.
There well could be another after David Ferrer joined his countrymen by beating Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).
The fourth seed next plays Richard Gasquet after the Frenchman saved a match point in the fourth set tiebreak, before going on to outlast Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 in a slugfest that lasted 4 hours, 40 minutes.
Raonic served 39 aces and hit 102 winners, but paid the price for 80 unforced errors.
Earlier in the women’s singles, Daniela Hantuchova advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time in more than a decade.
The 30-year-old Hantuchova had not reached the last eight in New York since she was a teenager in 2002, but she made up for lost time with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory over wild-card Alison Riske of the US.
“I guess the best things happen when you don’t expect them,” said Hantuchova, now ranked 48th in the world.