Roger Federer’s latest reign at the top the world lawn tennis rankings has ended after the Swiss great’s shock loss to Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round of the Miami Masters on Saturday.
The 36-year-old Federer wasted no time in announcing he’ll skip the clay-court season, including the French Open, just as he did last year after winning titles in Indian Wells and Miami.
Kokkinakis, ranked 175th in the world, needed a wild card just to get into qualifying. But he showed nerves of steel in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) triumph over 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer.
“I was calmer than I thought,” Kokkinakis said of the third-set tiebreaker. “Inside I was pretty happy, I was excited, but I kept pretty calm.”
Federer, who won his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, regained the number one spot in February after winning the ATP title in Rotterdam but needed to reach the quarter-finals to remain at the summit.
Instead he’ll be replaced by Spain’s Rafael Nadal when the rankings are released at the end of the tournament.
The 21-year-old Kokkinakis, who has battled injury in his young career, became the lowest-ranked player to beat a world number one since Spain’s Francisco Clavet was 178th when he upset top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt in the second round at Miami in 2003.
Federer appeared firmly in control when he breezed through the first set without facing a break point, dropping just six points on his own serve. His lone break for a 3-1 lead was all he needed to pocket the set.
But Kokkinakis seized upon a lackluster service game from Federer to break for a 3-1 lead in the second, holding firm on his own serve to force the decider.
“I didn’t really put any pressure on him (in the first set),” Kokkinakis said. “In the second set I kind of used a couple of loose errors — I started getting in the rallies more and dictating a bit with my forehand.”