By Stephen Wilson
The Associated Press
LONDON — It was already one of the most tumultuous days in Grand Slam tennis history, with seven players forced out by injuries, two of the top three seeded women eliminated and six former No. 1-ranked players leaving early.
So what else could happen to make this a day like no other at Wimbledon?
Here’s what: the world’s greatest grass-court player losing on his favorite Centre Court — the most famous stage in tennis — to a 116th-ranked qualifier who had never beaten a top-10 player.
Seven-time champion Roger Federer was stunned by Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at the All England Club on Wednesday, his earliest loss in a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years.
The 27-year-old Ukrainian outplayed Federer, serving and volleying his way to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory that stands out as one of the sport’s biggest upsets.
“Magic,” Stakhovsky said. “I couldn’t play any better today.”
Federer’s loss ended his record streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, a run that began at Wimbledon in 2004, shortly after a third-round exit at that year’s French Open.
“It’s always a disappointment losing any match around the world, and particularly here,” Federer said. “I’ve had some great moments here, but also some tougher ones. Can’t have ‘em all. It was a tough loss today.”
The result capped a chaotic day of injuries, walkovers, retirements and shocking results.
Third-seeded Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, fell to a 131st-ranked qualifier. No. 2 Victoria Azerenka was among the seven injury withdrawals — believed to be a Grand Slam single-day record in the Open era. Federer became the seventh former No. 1 player to exit the championships on this one day.
Only two days ago, two-time champion Rafael Nadal was bounced in the first round by 135th-ranked Steve Darcis.
After only three days of play, five of the top 10 seeded women and four of the top 10 men are already out of the draw.
The owner of a record 17 major titles and the defending champion, Federer hadn’t been beaten in the second round or earlier at a Slam since a first-round defeat at the 2003 French Open.
The 31-year-old Federer said he won’t “panic” and will work hard to come back stronger.
“I’m looking forward to what’s to come,” he said. “Looking forward to next year, that I can do better next year. ‘’
Federer said the end of his quarterfinal run does not represent the end of an era.
“I still have plans to play for many more years to come,” he said. “It’s normal that after all of a sudden losing early after being in the quarters 36 times, people feel it’s different.”