MASON, Ohio -- Roger Federer was the only one who saw it
Too much tennis, too little time off. The world's top player
knew it was the perfect combination for a long-awaited upset, one
that a disbelieving British teen pulled off Wednesday.
Andy Murray's 7-5, 6-4 victory in the second round of the
Western & Southern Financial Group Masters ended Federer's 55-match
winning streak in North America and provided his earliest
tournament exit in two years.
The streak included two U.S. Open titles that helped stamp
Federer as one of the sport's all-time best players.
"The streaks? I don't care about those now that they're over,"
said Federer, who hadn't lost in straight set in his last 194
matches. "It's going to be a relief for everybody, and now we can
Federer's last loss on the continent also came at the
Cincinnati-area tournament, when Dominik Hrbaty beat him in the
first round on Aug. 3, 2004. He had a premonition that the streak
might end there as well.
He beat Richard Gasquet in three sets on Sunday to win a Masters
Series title in Toronto and then had only one day to travel, sneak in
a little practice and get ready to resume the grind. He thought
there was a good chance he'd get knocked out early.
"Two Masters Series back-to-back -- 12 matches in 13 days -- it's
something of the impossible," he said.
The loss left Federer 62-5 this year and ended his bid to match
one of the sport's enduring marks. He had reached the final of his
last 17 tournaments since June 2005, one shy of matching Ivan
Lendl's Open era record of 18 straight such finishes since 1981-82.
The numbers were so daunting that the 19-year-old Murray -- in
only his second year on the tour -- didn't think he had much of a
chance to pull off the upset.
Murray had been playing well, winning 18 of his last 23 matches.
He made it to the semifinals at Toronto, and his ranking was a
career-best 21 heading into the Cincinnati tournament.
He could see right away that Federer's game was off but wasn't
"I know Federer didn't play his best match, but how many guys
beat him when he's playing badly anyway?" Murray said.
The answer: Almost none.
When Federer's final return sailed out -- like so many before it
-- Murray was so overwhelmed that he didn't go wild. He went numb.
"I don't know what to say," said Murray, who calmly jogged to
the net to shake Federer's hand. "I didn't know how to react at
the end, because I definitely was not planning on winning the
Murray became only the second player to beat Federer this year,
joining No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Federer had won his previous 19
matches and was 85-2 on hard courts over the last two years
heading into the match.
Staying calm throughout, Murray took advantage of Federer's
problems with his serve and his backhand. Murray broke his serve
seven times, including three in a row to help him close out the
"I didn't get nervous at all," Murray said. "I just kind of
went with it. That's what happens when it's meant to be."
Federer took the loss with the same feeling that it was almost
bound to happen.
"I'm not disappointed," Federer said. "There's no reason to
be. It was an incredible run. You always expect a loss once in a
while, so when it happens, why be disappointed?"
James Blake was sure disappointed after another second-round
loss Wednesday, one that made him wave his arms and swat a ball
over the grandstands in frustration. Juan Carlos Ferrero took
advantage of Blake's lapses for a 6-2, 6-4 victory that showed how
much work the top-ranked American has to do before the U.S. Open.
"The two most important parts of the game -- serve and return --
were what let me down most today," Blake said. "I felt OK in
practice. I just had another bad day. It was one of those days
where when I guessed, it seemed like I guessed wrong."
Blake won his third ATP title of the year last month in
Indianapolis but now has a pair of second-round exits and some
problems to work on next week at the Pilot Pen tournament in
"I'm going to hope that I'm back to getting all the breaks and
feeling confident next week," he said. "I think if I win a match
or two and things are going my way, there's no reason I can't start
getting all the breaks at the U.S. Open."
Ninth-seeded Andy Roddick, playing in his first tournament since
he strained his left side last month, looked smooth while beating
Kristof Vliegen 6-4, 6-4. Roddick was much more tentative in his
opening-round match, protecting his side.
"I felt I played the match on my terms," Roddick said.
"Everything was a lot better than yesterday."
In other matches involving seeded players, Nadal beat Lee
Hyung-taik 6-4, 6-3; Stanislas Wawrinka beat No. 3 David Nalbandian
6-4, 6-2; No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-6 (5);
No. 7 Tommy Robredo beat Max Mirnyi 6-4, 6-4; No. 8 Marcos
Baghdatis beat Gael Monfils 7-6 (8), 2-6, 6-1; and No. 14 Tommy
Haas beat Gilles Simon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.