‘Not something I’m proud of’: Roger Federer makes sad admission

Roger Federer suffered a setback in his preparations for Wimbledon after crashing out of the second round of the ATP grass court tournament in Halle.

Federer, who will bid to win a ninth title at Wimbledon which starts June 28, suffered a shock 4-6 6-3 6-2 defeat to 20-year-old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, who is almost half his age.

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“It’s amazing, for sure I didn’t expect this,” Auger Aliassime told Eurosport after beating one of his heroes at the first attempt on the ATP tour.

“I wanted to win, but Roger Federer is my idol and it was a huge honour to play him.

“I always thought he would be gone by the time I joined the tour.

“I was a little nervous when I realised I could win, but I was playing really well, almost perfect tennis.”

Federer had pulled out of the fourth round of the French Open last week to give himself extra rest after two operations on his right knee in 2020 and a year of rehab.

Halle is his traditional grass court warm-up event before playing at Wimbledon and entered as defending champion after the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, despite losing the first set, Auger Aliassime, ranked 21 in the world, showed no signs of being intimidated by Federer, who has won 20 Grand Slams. The Canadian blasted down 13 aces and earned 15 break points, of which he managed to covert just three.

Federer won the first set with ease, but struggled from there on. He started to labour in the second set as Auger Aliassime converted his fourth break point to go 4-2 up, then served out to level the match at one set all.

It was one-way traffic in the deciding set as Auger Aliassime broke Federer to take a commanding 3-0 lead and eventually converted the first of his three match points.

Federer isn’t used to losing like this. (Photo by Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

‘Not sure I’ve ever seen that before’

The Swiss maestro was gutted with the result and chastised himself for having a poor attitude.

“It was not a good attitude from my side. I was disappointed in the way I was feeling on-court, the way things were going,” Federer said.

“I think all the difficulty of the comeback got to me as well a little bit — how much I have to push on every point, try to make things happen. I realised it was not going to be my day.

“There was nothing I could do. I started to get really negative and this is not normally how I am. It’s not something I’m happy and proud about.

“At the same time, if you look at my 1500 matches I’ve played, these things can happen. The good thing is that I know it won’t happen the next time.”

Federer needed to cool off after the match, waiting 2.5 hours to front the press because he didn’t want to speak off the cuff while he was so upset.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to take the time between the match and the press conference, to truly understand why I did feel this way,” he said.

“I need to understand why it’s going on and, again, I got a lot of information from Paris. Also from Geneva and Doha in particular and then changing surfaces is not easy.

“It’s important for me to take the right decisions moving forward for Wimbledon and for the rest of the season because this type of third set I cannot accept.

“The third set, I was unhappy about how it how it ended. You know, similar to Geneva and in some ways where I felt like I played actually good in spells but it was up and down.”

Tennis reporter Tumaini Carayol was taken aback by Federer’s harsh assessment, and also the fact he answered questions from reporters only in English, when he usually stays back to do press conferences in French and German too.

“He asked for only English questions today, meaning Swiss journalists were asking him questions in English,” Carayol tweeted. “Not sure I’ve ever seen that before.”

Federer was particularly upset with his third set. (Photo by Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images).Source:Getty Images

In the quarter-finals, Auger Aliassime will play American qualifier Marcos Giron, who beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 6-4 in their second-round match.

With Federer out, it means Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Russia’s Andrey Rublev are the only seeds left in the Halle draw.

Rublev is into the last eight after beating Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-4 6-4 in 86 minutes.

Auger Aliassime is hoping to win the first ATP title of his career in Halle after losing all of his last eight finals, including last week’s grass court tournament in Stuttgart.

With AFP

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