Roger Federer has suffered yet another surprise defeat at the hands of a much lower ranked player after losing in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to Daniel Brands of Germany.
The world No. 5 succumbed to his second defeat in his second tournament since Wimbledon, losing in 65 minutes to the 55th ranked player in the world.
His previous defeat, at the clay court tournament in Hamburg, was to world No. 114 Federico Delbonis, and while speaking [via BBC Sport] about the defeat, Federer made it clear that getting games under his belt was one of his big aims.
It's disappointing, but defeats like that happen sometimes. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the final [the next match], but nevertheless, I did have four good matches and these are the kind of matches I need.
Federer has been trying out a new racquet of late but he refused to blame the racquet for his loss to Delbonis:
"I don't think it had much to do with the racket today. I tried everything I could at this tournament. It's been a difficult week throughout. But I'm happy I fought through many matches. It gives me the matches I was looking for."
John Muir, the general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, makers of Federer's new racket, has admitted [via Wall Street Journal Online] that the racquet was made based on Federer's requests, and the process of tailoring the racquet to Federer is not over.
Will the absence of a Grand Slam title at the end of 2013 put a question mark on Federer's Big Four status?
While Federer remains an exceptional player, the racquet change is an admission—intentional or not—that even he is fallible.
Some will argue that Federer's current issues have nothing to do with the racquet, however, having shown that he is fallible, it is a valid possibility that he will need time to adjust to the racquet.
At various points over the last 2-3 years, tennis fans and pundits have predicted the beginning of the end for Federer, but losses to Stakhovsky (ranked 116) at Wimbledon, Delbonis and Brands may change that conversation.
Racquets and the business of blame apportionment aside, it is not unreasonable to say that if results continue like this, we may be nearer to, if not at, the middle of the end for Federer.