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Aussie Open: Federer out, Nadal, Sharapova survive

A stunned Roger Federer was dumped from the
Australian Open on Friday in his worst showing
since 2001 as Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova
bounced back to stay in the title hunt, AFP
reports.
In the tournament’s biggest upset, the Swiss
world number two had no answer to Italian
Andreas Seppi, who he had conquered in their
past 10 meetings.
“Just a bad day. I wish I could have played better
but clearly it was tough losing the first two sets,”
Federer said after crashing out in the third round
6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).
“I had chances to get back into it but let it slip. It’s
a disappointing loss.”
The defeat was the 17-time Grand Slam winner’s
earliest exit in Melbourne in 14 years and aside
from his second round Wimbledon flop in 2013,
was the Swiss legend’s worst performance at a
major in more than a decade.
Federer was chasing his fifth Australian Open
crown, but has now not won a Grand Slam title
since Wimbledon in 2012.
He started sluggishly and when he was broken to
love in the first set, giving Seppi a 5-4 lead, it was
clear something was amiss with Federer’s game.
“To beat Roger first time, especially in a Grand
Slam, best-of-five, is a special moment for me,”
said the 46th ranked Seppi, who had only taken
one set off him in their previous 10 matches.
In contrast, Nadal was back to his best against
Israel’s Dudi Sela, comfortably winning 6-1, 6-0,
7-5 after being pushed to the brink in a five-set
epic in the second round when he suffered dizzy
spells and cramps.
“The other night was one of the toughest times I
have spent on the court and my body wasn’t very
well and I felt very lucky to get through,” he said.
“In general I think I was playing better than I did
the other day, I was feeling better tonight.”
Sharapova was also on fire, blitzing past Zarina
Diyaz of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-1 to erase memories of
her big scare in the second round when she had
to save two match points.
“I started really focused, I knew I had a tough,
long match previously, so I wanted to start off
strong and finish strong,” said the Russian second
seed.
Andy Murray was also in form, easily beating
Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 and is yet to be
seriously tested at Melbourne Park.
He will next meet Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor
Dimitrov, who struggled against 2006 Open
runner-up Marcos Baghdatis with the fired-up
Cypriot pushing him to five gruelling sets.

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