DUBAI (AFP) – Sluggish Roger Federer rued a “crazy” failure to bury three match points in falling to a shock three-set defeat to Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai on Wednesday.
Former world number one Federer, 35, who lifted his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, had match points in the second-set tiebreak and also led 5-1 in the third-set breaker.
But world-ranked 116 Donskoy battled back to stun the third seed and set up a quarter-final clash against Lucas Pouille of France with a thrilling 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) victory.
“I surprised everyone today. I think whoever wins against Roger surprises himself,” said Donskoy 26.
“I can say it’s a dream come true, but I don’t like this because you always want to win, even if it’s Roger.”
It was just the third time since 2007 that Federer has been beaten by a qualifier.
“I just never really got going tonight and sort of felt heavy. But look, those matches happen frequently, where you just got to somehow find a way to come through,” said the Swiss legend, who was chasing a record eighth title at the Dubai Championships.
“Tonight I was convinced that if I came through I was going to feel better tomorrow. I came (to Dubai) early. I was perfectly prepared, it’s just a tough loss tonight. So many chances… It was crazy.”