NEW YORK (AFP) – Roger Federer crashed out of the US Open in the fourth round while Rafael Nadal captured his 19th hardcourt win in a row to reach the quarter-finals without having allowed a service break.
Federer on Monday suffered a stunning upset at the hands of Spanish 19th seed Tommy Robredo, whose 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 shocker was his first victory in 11 matches against the 17-time Grand Slam champion and five-time US Open winner.
“I’m going to feel like I beat myself,” Federer said. “It was up to me to make the difference and I just couldn’t.
“I self-destructed, which is really disappointing. When things came to the crunch I just couldn’t do it. It’s frustrating.”
Federer’s failure, which came on the heels of a shock second-round Wimbledon exit, thwarted a potential quarter-final match with 12-time Grand Slam winner Nadal in what would have been their first meeting on the New York hardcourts.
“If I’m playing like this, I’m not going to beat Rafa,” Federer said.
This was the first year since 2002 that Federer has not made a Grand Slam final.
Instead, it will be Robredo in his first US Open quarter-final against second-seeded countryman Nadal, who dispatched Germany’s 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
“It was very tough conditions, very humid. I sweat too much,” Nadal said. “But the opponent was great. Lucky to be through I think. I fought a lot to get through this match.”
Nadal leads the ATP with nine titles this season and a 56-3 record since ending a seven-month injury layoff last February, his sore knees having kept him out of last year’s US Open.
Nadal has won all six career meetings with Robredo, but Federer was 10-0 against Robredo before being sent home.
“He will come to my match with big confidence,” Nadal said. “I hope to be ready for that.”
Robredo suffered seven prior fourth-round US Open defeats and matched his best Grand Slam performance with the dramatic upset.
“To beat Roger, it’s something amazing,” Robredo said. “It’s like a dream. I am so happy. It was a great day.”
Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer reached his eighth consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, beating Serbian 18th seed Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).
Ferrer will face French eighth seed Richard Gasquet, who outlasted 10th seed Milos Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 after four hours and 40 minutes and despite the Canadian’s 39 aces, the third-most ever in a US Open match.
Ferrer is 8-1 all-time against Gasquet, whose only prior fourth-round Slam win in 17 attempts came on his way to a 2007 Wimbledon semi-final.
In taking as many sets off Federer as he had in 10 prior losses combined, Robredo also raised questions about the future of the former world number one, who had not missed the US Open quarter-finals since a 2003 fourth-round exit.
Federer, 32, won only two of 16 break-point chances.
“I’m delighted. Today the difference is I won the break points and he did not,” said Robredo.
Federer, whose seventh seeding at the US Open was his lowest at a Grand Slam event since 2002, hit 45 winners but also made 43 unforced errors and managed only five aces.
“I started badly,” Federer said. “But I struggled throughout, which is not very satisfying. I missed so many opportunities. Rhythm was off. When those things happen, clearly it’s always going to be difficult.”
Federer had made 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearances before being upset by Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at Wimbledon, having not departed a major before the last eight since the 2004 French Open.
A rain delay of more than four hours pushed his match from Arthur Ashe Stadium to Louis Armstrong Stadium, his first match there since 2006. He had not lost there since suffering his first US Open loss back in 2000.
Federer had made eight career comebacks to win after dropping the first two sets but he failed on five break points in the fourth game of the third set and there was a sense a comeback chance had been squandered.
Robredo, 31, broke at love in the seventh game for a 4-3 edge and they held to set up the final game, fans chanting, “Let’s Go Roger” in vain hopes of willing the wilting once-king to a rally for the ages, only to watch as Robredo held again to win in two hours and 24 minutes.