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Federer adds to list of Canada casualties

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Originally published on: 12/08/11 10:18

There must be something in the Canada air this week. In both Rogers Cup locations, in Montreal and Toronto, top seeds have tumbled like flies and last night Roger Federer became the latest casualty. The Swiss fell 7-6(3) 4-6 6-1 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to follow the likes of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and Li Na out of the tournament.

News of the Swiss departing tournaments early doors has mostly been treated with shock in the past, but do we flinch at such stories now that the losses are more frequent and Novak Djokovic appears to be replicating, for the short term at least, Federer’s past stranglehold on the game?

Granted, the Swiss has failed to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament in just two of his 11 tournaments this year, having also lost to Richard Gasquet in the last sixteen in Rome, but it does seem the 30-year-old no longer strikes the same level of fear into his opponents.

Tsonga, of course, became the first player to rob the 16-time Grand Slam champion of victory while two-sets-to-love-up when the pair met in the Wimbledon quarter-finals this summer, and he trounced the Swiss in a lop-sided third set for his second victory over Federer in Montreal, having hit back from 5-1 down in the third to win in 2009.

“Two years ago I think he was lucky to pull out the win,” said Federer. “Tonight he played well and he played extraordinary shots as we know he can do. I was not able to do that.”

Far from shocked by the result, the world No.3 added: “He beat me at Wimbledon, so I don’t know how much of a surprise it is. He’s playing well. I thought if he was going to play well again, me not at my best, he could do it again. It’s not like he’s beating me the first time.”

It may not pay to read too much into the defeat, particularly with the US Open still a month away. “For the time being, the focus is here, not elsewhere,” said Federer, who travels to Cincinnati next week in the hope of defending his Western & Southern Open crown.

As for the other seeds sent tumbling at the Rogers Cup, while their exits aren’t particularly good news for tournament organisers, they shouldn’t be considered overly surprising given that most players are returning from unofficial mid-season breaks after the hectic period around Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“All of us give ourselves a little bit of a vacation after that because we are on the road and travelling for back-to-back Grand Slams,” said Sharapova after her 6-3 7-5 loss to Kazakhstani qualifier Galina Voskoboeva. “It takes everyone a little bit of time to get the rust off and to get going.”

French Open champion Li Na echoed her sentiments after her 6-2 6-4 defeat to Sam Stosur. “It’s always tough after a break to come back for the first match because I had six or seven weeks that I didn’t play a tournament,” said the 29-year-old.

“At the beginning of the match I didn’t even know what I should do on the court, not like during the clay court season.”

Novak Djokovic had no such bother, defeating Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to take his record of match wins for the season to 50-1.

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