ROME Roger Federer failed to make the quarter-finals of a tournament for the first time in a year after he was knocked out of the Rome Masters by Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Thursday.
The world number three took the first set 6-4 but lost the next two sets against the 16th seed on tiebreaks (7-2) (7-4) in a superb match of clean-hitting strokes.
"I should never have lost this match," the 16-times Grand Slam champion told reporters. "He knows how close he came to losing. I had multiple chances but I couldn't make the difference.
"I thought I was playing well but he served better toward the end and hung in there. I didn't feel I could break and it's no fun to play like that," said the Swiss, who was knocked out by Ernests Gulbis in the second round in Rome last year.
"I'm looking forward to a few days to stay mentally and physically fresh and practice very hard. The same thing happened last year."
World number one Rafa Nadal returned to form with a 6-4 6-2 win over compatriot Feliciano Lopez despite almost withdrawing with a fever while fourth seed Andy Murray also progressed.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)