Federer loses to Stepanek in Rome Masters

May 10th, 2008 - 12:42 pm ICT by admin  

Rome, May 10 (DPA) World no.1 Roger Federer booked a flight to Germany after facing a shock defeat at the hands of Radek Stepanek while American Andy Roddick continued his clay-court progress by reaching a second career semi-final at the Rome Masters Federer, a favourite after the exit of three-time champion Nadal in the second round, found himself a victim of errors in his loss to Stepanek 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (7-9).

Federer was plagued by a poor day on the clay event where he has lost two finals.

“It was very important to play aggressively,” said Stepanek. “Once he plays his game he can move you around the court. You have to put pressure on him, and it paid off.”

Federer seemed determined to put a bad cay out of mind, moving onto Hamburg where he defends a title from Sunday.

“It’s just disappointing the way I lost today,” said the 12-time Grand Slam champion. “I wish I could have played better.

“I played so poorly on the big points. It’s a tough loss.”

The Czech did himself no favours with a wildly pro-Federer crowd as he engaged in his distasteful “worm dance” in victory - undulating his body onto the clay then ripping off his bandana and waving it around.

He next plays Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic after the third seed advanced when Spain’s Nicolas Almagro retired injured trailing 6-1, 1-0 after a walkover in the previous round

Sixth seed Roddick surprised himself again at the Foro Italico as he registered a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) win over Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

“I don’t know if this is a sure fire solution, but it’s certainly going to be better than only playing one or two matches before going in to play in France,” Roddick said of his Roland Garros preparation.

The American will play against Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka Saturday, who ended the improbable clay odyssey of American James Blake with a laboured 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory.

The win after a struggle of two hours, 31 minutes has given Wawrinka his career-best 20th ranking

Wawrinka has come on strong in recent weeks after playing a clay final last summer against Rafael Nadal in Stuttgart. The 22-year-old reached the Barcelona semi-finals last weekend, losing to eventual finalist David Ferrer.

He then carried on in Rome with wins over Marat Safin, Andy Murray and Juan Carlos Ferrero who defeated Nadal in the second round of Rome Masters.

“Of course I’m very happy,” said Wawrinka. “I played very good and now I’m still in the tournament to play a second semi-final in two weeks.

“The two first sets were very, very tough. A 6-7, 7-6 win is always difficult, but I stayed focussed on my game and tried to push him a lot from the baseline.”

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