Ever since he won his first SW19 trophy in 2003, Roger Federer and Wimbledon titles have gone very much hand in hand, but ahead of the 2013 tournament, there were concerns regarding the Swiss maestro's attempts to defend his crown from the previous year. Despite enjoying a relatively respectable clay-court campaign, a back injury had plagued the multiple Grand Slam champion and on the quicker surface in London, it remained open to debate whether that area of his body would stand up to seven matches across two weeks.
However, ahead of the third major of the year, Federer managed to win in Halle, edging past Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny in the closing stages of the event. Both wins were achieved from a set deficit - hardly the routine passage that Federer would have hoped for - and although he made the trip to England's capital with a title to his name, it was no secret that the lingering back issue could have a detrimental impact on his tournament.
When Federer opened Wimbledon against Victor Hanescu, there were no signs that his movement had been restricted to any degree. The seven-time Wimbledon winner made light work of the world number 48, winning 87% points behind his serve and breaking the Romanian on six occasions, to advance through to a second-round tie with Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky- who had breezed past the challenge of Brazilian hitter Rogerio Dutra da Silva - on this day two years ago.
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The pair had crossed paths on just one previous occasion, with Federer prevailing in straight sets in Dubai in 2011. With Stakhovsky having lost in the opening round at Roland Garros, only reaching the last 32 at Queen's and failing to qualify for Eastbourne, there was little reason for Stakhovsky to possess any kind of realistic hope of challenging someone who had suffered just three defeats in the past decade at The All England Club.
However, Stakhovsky quickly showed that he hadn't walked onto Centre Court to roll over to the brilliance of his opponent. The world number 116 took Federer to a first-set tie-break, but the top grass-court player in the world soon nicked the mini-break with the help of a stunning backhand return before sealing the opener with an ace out wide. However, the second followed the same path as the first, only this time, it was Stakhovsky who prevailed, taking the tie-break 7-5 with a serve-and-volley at the net.
At 5-5 in the third, there still hadn't been a break of serve, but after 34 successive holds between the two, Stakhovsky struck and gave himself an opportunity to serve for a 2-1 lead when Federer shanked a backhand long of the baseline. His opponent quickly earned two set points in the next game, the first of which was converted with more sharp work at the net. The crowd on Centre Court were stunned with what they were witnessing, and that only heightened when Stakhovsky moved a break ahead in the third game of the fourth, leaving him four service games away from the biggest triumph of his career.
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However, in the sixth game, the break was gifted back by Stakhovsky after he sent a tame forehand into the net. The set would eventually progress to a tie-break - the third of a compelling encounter - and Stakhovsky went against the general belief that he would be nervous by drilling a backhand winner down the line to move 3-1 ahead. The next six points were shared to leave the underdog with two match points, but Federer would save the first with a forehand passing shot down the line to retrieve the earlier mini-break. Stakhovsky would confirm victory on the second, though, as Federer miscued a backhand wide of the line, leaving the Ukrainian to collapse to the floor, shell-shocked with what he had just achieved.
After the match, he told BBC Sport: "When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon, it's like you are playing two people. Firstly, you are playing Roger Federer and then you are playing his ego on the Centre Court of Wimbledon, where he is historical. I was just hoping that at the start of the match, he wouldn't get too far from me and that I would have a chance to be in the match. I was a little tight in the fourth set when I was up a break, I couldn't quite believe the position I was in, but I eventually managed to get through it in a tie-break."
Federer's defeat was his earliest at Wimbledon since 2002, and his worst performance at a Grand Slam since the 2003 French Open. The setback also brought an end to his run of 36 consecutive appearances in the last eight of a Grand Slam tournament. As for Stakhovsky, he was unable to repeat his heroics in the last 32, losing in four sets to Jurgen Melzer.