Roger Federer went down 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a second-round shocker to Felix Auger-Aliassime on the Halle grass on Wednesday leaving the pre-Wimbledon event with only two seeds remaining.
No 5 Federer, a 10-time champion in the northern German village which boasts a look-alike replica of Centre Court in SW19, had a day to forget on return, managing only 20 per cent in the second-round defeat.
That low return rate led Swiss insiders to suggest the fifth seed is carrying an injury – one likely to be kept under wraps with the start of Wimbledon less than a fortnight away .
The match lasting one and three-quarter hours was a battle for the ages, with the 20-year-old FAA exploiting a 19-year-age gap between himself and the Swiss legend.
“It was an amazing win, I certainly didn’t expect this,” the winner who rained down 13 aces and forced the 39-year-old fifth seed to save 12 of 15 break points, said.
“I just wanted to win so much, This is a great moment for me, I just hope I can keep it going in the tournament.”
The 19-year-gap was the largest in Federer’s career, and was around a year longer than the 18-year difference when he played another Canadian, Denis Shapovalov, in 2019.
The Canadian winner said he had long looked up to Federer who was winning Grand Slams when the challenger was an infant.
“To be on the same court with him and also get the win is just amazing.
“I started well and played well. It was scary but I believed in my chances.
The pair share the same August 8 birthday and were facing off for the first time.
The unexpected loss raises questions about Federer’s match fitness heading to Wimbledon, the fortnight upon which he is basing his hopes in a comeback from two 2020 knee surgeries.
Of course you come into the match wanting to win, but Roger was my idol, like many of us growing up,” the winner said.
“It was a huge honour to play him before he retired, and to beat him is something amazing that I will always cherish.”
Federer lost for the first time in 33 early matches in Halle, where he had been chasing a 70th match win and 18th quarter-final.
FAA earned his first break on his ninth cnace as he began to reverese the momtntum of the match played in an empty stadium
“I served amazingly in the third set,” the Canadian said.
“It was tough in the first set. I thought I was playing so good, as good as I can play, and I lost 6-4.
Main photo:- Felix Auger-Aliassime beats Roger Federer – by ATPTour.com