Australian Open: I have massive regrets, says Roger Federer after loss
Swiss World No. 3 Federer rues inability to convert 12 break points in shock 7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7 fourth-round defeat to Greek Tsitsipas
Swiss great Roger Federer denied yesterday that his defeat to Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas signalled a changing of the guard as he announced he will play the French Open this year for the first time since 2015.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was shocked by a man 17 years his junior in the Last 16 of the Australian Open 6-7 (11-13), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) on Rod Laver Arena.
But Federer, the defending champion, played down suggestions it was the beginning of the end for a man who has dominated the sport for so long. "I've heard that story [for] the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there," he said. And in a signal that he is hungry for more, Federer, 37, said he planned to play on clay again this year for the first time since 2015. "It's a bit of a desire. I'm in a phase where I want to have fun and I've missed not doing it," he told reporters of the French Open.
He missed Roland Garros in 2016 with an injury and skipped the clay season the last two years. "I don't feel it is necessary to have a big break again," he added. The long-haired Tsitsipas, seeded 14, has been touted as a future Grand Slam champion and Federer had nothing but praise, saying he saw similarities to himself. "He has a one-handed backhand and I used to have long hair, too," said the World No. 3.
"Yeah, so maybe a little bit, sure. He has more of a continental grip than players nowadays. That's a bit more my way than, let's say, Rafa's way. I see him definitely being high up in the game for a long time. That was a good night for him tonight."
Federer conceded he had massive regrets about losing and said he didn't win because he struggled to convert his 12 break points, making none of them count. "I have massive regrets, you know, tonight. I might not look the part, but I am. I felt like I have to win the second set," he said. "I don't care how I do it, but I have to do it. That cost me the game tonight. There is always multiple factors that play into a match like this," he added. "But it definitely didn't go the way I was hoping on the break points. I also didn't break him at the Hopman Cup, so clearly something is wrong with my return to him."
Rampant Rafa downs Berdych
Meanwhile, Rampant Rafael Nadal continued to scatter rivals after he romped past former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 to tear into the quarter-finals. The Spanish second seed blasted out of the blocks to win nine games in a row against the Czech. He then brutally kept his foot on his throat to win in 2hr 5min on Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard will face Frances Tiafoe who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5.
Roberto ends Cilic challenge
Earlier, Roberto Bautista Agut came through a third five-setter yesterday to knock out 2018 finalist and sixth seed Marin Cilic in the fourth round. The in-form Spanish 22nd seed will play in his first Grand Slam quarter-final after winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in two minutes under four hours on Margaret Court Arena. Bautista Agut began his season by beating Novak Djokovic en route to the Doha title and now faces Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-finals.
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