A DEJECTED Roger Federer admitted he self-destructed in his straight-sets defeat by Tommy Robredo in the fourth round of the US Open yesterday as his decline continued.
Two months after he was beaten by Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at Wimbledon, the 17-times grand slam champion slumped to a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 defeat against a man he had not lost to in ten previous meetings.
The defeat continues a miserable season for the 32-year-old Swiss, who has dropped from world No 1 to No 7 in less than 12 months and has failed to reach a grand slam final for the first time since 2002.
It also means there will be no first meeting at Flushing Meadows between Federer and Rafael Nadal, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets.
Federer said: “I kind of feel like I beat myself, without taking any credit away from Tommy. It was up to me to make the difference and I couldn’t. I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing, especially on a quicker court. Your serve helps you out. You’re going to make the difference somewhere. I just couldn’t do it. It was a frustrating performance.”
Federer made 43 errors in three sets and won only two break points from 16 chances.
Federer remains convinced he can find his best form again, saying: “It just ended up being a bad combination of many things. So I’ve definitely got to go back to work and come back stronger, get rid of this loss now as quick as I can because that’s not how I want to play from here on. I want to play better. I know I can. I showed it the last few weeks, that there is that level.”
It has been a superb year for Spaniard Robredo, who was ranked 471st when he came back from thigh surgery last spring.
He said: “It’s amazing. 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 match of best of five sets, it’s like a dream. I am so, so happy. I am in the quarter-finals again. It was a great day.”
Nadal also struggled to take his chances and it cost him in the first set against 22nd seed Kohlschreiber, who saved three set points before winning the tie-break. But, once Nadal forged ahead in the second set, he was always in the ascendancy and ran out a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 winner.
The other quarter-final in the bottom half will pit fourth seed David Ferrer against eighth seed Richard Gasquet.
Ferrer toughed out a 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) win over Janko Tipsarevic while Gasquet won a titanic struggle against tenth seed Milos Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 after four hours and 40 minutes.
Top seed Novak Djokovic demolished unseeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 to charge into the quarter-finals.
Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion and runner-up last year, won the last 13 games to finish off the match in 79 minutes. The 26-year-old Serb was dominant in every phase and excelled particularly from the service line, winning the first 25 points of the match on his serve.
“I played one of the better matches I’ve ever played here,” the world No 1, who has yet to lose a set in the tournament, said. “I had everything working, every part of my game.”
Djokovic will now meet Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who ended former champion Lleyton Hewitt’s excellent run.
The Australian, the champion in New York 12 years ago, had rolled back the years with a stunning win over Juan Martin del Potro and looked set to reach his first grand slam quarter-final for four years.
Hewitt led 4-1 in the fourth set only for Youzhny to win six straight games and lead by a break in the decider.
Back came 32-year-old Hewitt to lead 5-2 but he played a poor game serving for the match and Youzhny reeled off five straight games to clinch a 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Jamie Murray followed Colin Fleming and Jonny Marray out in the men’s doubles quarter-finals as the Scot and his Australian partner John Peers lost a three-setter to second seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.
Austrian Peya and his Brazilian partner Soares edged the first set but Murray and Peers fought well to take the second to a tie-break and won it thanks to an untimely double fault from their opponents.
The decider was a tight affair but it was the British-Australian pair who were having to withstand most of the pressure and that told with Peers serving at 4-5. The Australian saved two match points but not a third, and it is Peya and Soares who go forward to the semi-finals following the 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 win.
Victoria Azarenka, the No 2 seed, ground out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Ana Ivanovic.
Sixth seed Li Na was also given a real battle by Ekaterina Makarova but pulled away in the deciding set to reach her first US Open semi-final.
Li, a former French Open winner and two-time Australian Open finalist, came through 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 to set up a probable clash with Serena Williams in the last four.