After going 17-0 in 2018, Roger Federer suffered his second consecutive defeat when he lost to a qualifier ranked 175th in the world in a result that had far reaching ramifications. Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis’s 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 win meant Federer was out of Miami Open in the second round and will concede the World No 1 ranking back to Rafael Nadal – who is readying himself for the clay season after a recurrence of the leg injury in Mexico earlier.
Speaking of clay, Federer further announced he will be skipping the entire clay season, including the French Open, just as he did in 2017, to give his body time to unwind for Wimbledon. Federer said the decision to skip French Open was made before the defeat on Saturday.
Kokkinakis, 21, had come close to calling time on his career after string of injuries over the course of two years. He needed a wildcard to gain entry into the Miami Open and became the lowest ranked player to beat a No. 1 since Francisco Clavet, then No. 178, beat Lleyton Hewitt at this tournament in 2003.
“I deserve it after this match,” said Federer, 36, who returned to No. 1 last month and became the oldest player to hold the top spot. “That’s how I feel. It’s so bad.”
Federer’s exit in the second round is bound to affect the attendance at an ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event which has seen exits of Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki.
“I didn’t play great last week either, I felt, over all,” said Federer, who started the year 17-0 and won the Australian Open. “Nothing new, in my opinion. I’m trying to figure things out. So, I have time now.”
Federer had lost last week in the final of Indian Wells to Juan Martin del Potro. The defeat in Mimai is first time since 2014 that Federer has lost two matches in a row.
The decision to skip French Open does not come as a surprise from Federer who at 36 has notched up 20 Grand Slam titles and choosing to focus on events where he has chances of going further into the draw – such as Wimbledon, where he is the defending champion, and hardcourts. The Swiss has won the French Open only once, in 2009, while winning all the other Slams at least five times.