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Federer to skip French Open after a shock, rank-losing defeat

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/ AFP | Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand against Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during the Miami Open on March 24, 2018.

Roger Federer will skip the upcoming European clay court season, including the French Open, he said on Saturday after his shock loss to 175th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open.


"I decided not to play," Federer said of his plans for Europe.

The decision means the 36-year-old will follow the same path as last year, when he also took two months off after the Miami Open, before returning to win Wimbledon.

Federer's loss to Kokkinakis was his second in six days, after falling to Juan Martin del Potro at Indian Wells.

Kokkinakis is the lowest-ranked player to defeat a men's world number one since 178th-ranked Francisco Clavet beat Lleyton Hewitt in Miami 2003, the ATP Tour.

The loss cost the Swiss his world number one ranking and leaves the Miami men's tournament wide open.

With defending champion Federer and six-times Miami Open winner Novak Djokovic exiting early, the likes of second seed Maric Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov (3), and Indian Wells winner Juan Martin del Potro (5) will all fancy their chances over the coming week.

Alexander Zverev will also be in the mix but the German fourth seed had a close shave on Saturday, needing three sets to advance past Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4 1-6 7-6(5), while Denis Shapovalov also moved on by defeating Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

Kokkinakis had trained with Federer but had never played the Swiss previously.

‘Sometimes you have these matches’

A disappointed Federer said he just could not raise his game.

"Sometimes you have these matches,” he said. “Sometimes you find a way through. I just couldn't get it done today.”

His mood contrasted sharply with an ecstatic Kokkinakis.

“When I feel like I am playing on my terms, I don't think there's too many people who can go with me,” the 21-year-old told reporters.

Fernando Verdasco will be Kokkinakis's next opponent after the Spaniard rallied from a set down to beat countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6 6-0 6-2.

Zverev needed more than two hours to prevail over Russian Medvedev, taking his ninth consecutive deciding-set tie-break victory, and will next face David Ferrer.

Canadian 18-year-old Shapovalov breezed through the first set in 24 minutes against Dzumhur and led by a break twice in the second before breaking for the fifth time at 5-5 and serving out the 6-1 7-5 victory.

He will next face Borna Coric of Croatia, who turned back Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 in a nearly three-hour match.

Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka, coming back after a year out due to major knee injury, went down 6-1 6-4 to 10th seed Tomas Berdych.

Britain's Kyle Edmund also lost, falling 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5) to American Frances Tiafoe, who frittered away four match points in the tiebreak before finally winning.


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