Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Seppi too hot for Federer

Published:Saturday | January 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):Roger Federer is out of the Australian Open, his chances of reaching a 12th consecutive semi-final at Melbourne Park erased in a shocking third-round loss to Andreas Seppi on Friday.

Rafael Nadal is still in contention, rebounding from his five-set, second-round win to beat No. 106-ranked Dudi Sella 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 in a third-round match lasting a little over two hours to reach the fourth round.

No. 2-ranked Federer came into the season's first major in form, winning the warm-up tournament at the Brisbane International and aiming for an 18th Grand Slam title. Nadal was coming off a lengthy stint on the sidelines, and hadn't given himself much chance of collecting a 15th major.

Federer had never lost to No. 46-ranked Seppi in 10 previous meetings, but made some uncharacteristic errors including nine double-faults - one to surrender a mini break in the last tiebreaker - in the 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (5) defeat.

Seppi, a 30-year-old Italian who had only advanced beyond the second round once at his nine previous trips to the Australian Open, held his nerve despite some withering winners from Federer, who registered his 1,000th career match win earlier this month in Brisbane.

LEAD LOST

Federer also had a 4-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker and let it slide.

Federer has won the Australian title four times, and had reached the semi-finals or better at Melbourne Park every year since winning the championship for the first time in 2004. This was his earliest exit since 2001, when he also lost in the third round.

The 33-year-old Federer walked over to Seppi's side of the net to shake his hand after the match, and applauded the crowd before he left the arena with his head lowered. It was only the second time in his last 43 Grand Slam tournaments that the Swiss star failed to at least reach the fourth round.

Seppi will almost certainly get another match on Rod Laver Arena for his fourth-round meeting with Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios, who shrugged off concern over a nosebleed to beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 7-6 (6), 6-1. Kyrgios has form in the fourth round, beating then No. 1-ranked Nadal at that stage at Wimbledon last year.

Nadal faces a fourth-rounder against No. 14 Kevin Anderson, who beat No. 24 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6).

Three-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray beat Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round clash with No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov, who had a tough third-rounder against 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis before winning 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych needed eight match points before beating Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 and will next play Bernard Tomic, who beat fellow Australian Sam Groth 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3.

On the women's side, No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova needed just 61 minutes for her 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 31 Zarina Diyas and will next meet No. 21 Peng Shuai.

Eugenie Bouchard struggled through a scrappy opening set before getting on top in a 7-5, 6-0 third-round win over Caroline Garcia that featured 10 breaks of serve.

Third-seeded Simona Halep advanced with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands, missing twice when she served for the match in the eighth and 10th games before finally serving out.

Halep, who opened the season by winning the Shenzhen Open in China, will next play Yanina Wickmayer, who beat No. 14-seeded Sara Errani 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.