LONDON (Reuters) - Roger Federer’s astonishing defeat to a Ukrainian journeyman in the second round at Wimbledon marked the arrival of a new world order in tennis but for the Swiss master this was definitely not the end of an era.
When the new ATP standings are released on July 8, they will show that the holder of a record 17 grand slam titles has slipped to fifth in the world after he failed to defend the 2000 points he amassed by hoisting the Challenge Cup last July.
It will be his lowest ranking since June 2003.
While fans and pundits alike were busy speculating if this was the beginning of the end for the greatest man to have ever wielded a tennis racket, Federer pooh-poohed the notion.
“You don’t panic at this point, that’s clear. Just go back to work and come back stronger really,” said Federer after he failed to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the first time since 2002 following his four-set defeat by Sergiy Stakhovsky.
“It’s normal that after all of a sudden losing early after being in the quarters 36 times (in a row), people feel it’s different,” he added.
”(But) I have more options now than I did have one year ago when I was running around trying to chase down every possible tournament and every point to get back to world No. 1.
“Maybe that, and the Olympics last year, took its toll. But overall I think I’ve been playing actually not so bad.”
The problem is that for Federer, who said himself a few years ago that he had ‘created a monster’ by winning so much, a second-round defeat on a court he has ruled for a decade is not only bad, it is off the Richter scale.
After all, this is the man who has won 67 times at Wimbledon, 122 matches on grass, 257 at the four majors and 905 matches in his career.
Twelve months ago he was the toast of southwest London after winning a record-equaling seventh title and climbing back to the top of the world rankings.
Nowhere is he loved more than at Wimbledon, where he epitomizes everything the club represents - grace, elegance and charm.
So much so that a new book ‘Wimbledon - The Official History’ has dedicated 75 of its hefty 552 pages to waxing lyrical about the great man’s records and achievements.
No doubt when the next edition comes out, Federer’s 2013 showing will be glossed over but it will definitely not be the last entry. Of that he is certain.
“I still have plans to play for many more years to come,” the 31-year-old said defiantly.
“I‘m healthy again, which is a good thing. So I‘m looking forward to playing hopefully injury‑free for the rest of the season.”
By his own lofty standards 2013 has been underwhelming.
He has won only one title - a low-key grasscourt event in Halle just before Wimbledon - and his grand slam performances have so far added up to a semi-final in Melbourne, a quarter-final appearance at the French and now a second-round humbling.
Checking out of Wimbledon in the first week does not sit easily with Federer and before he walked out of the All England Club gates on Wednesday he was already plotting his 2014 comeback.
“Looking forward to next year, that I can do better next year. Usually I do turnarounds pretty good. I‘m looking forward to what’s to come,” he said.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; editing by Ken Ferris