We are not even a week into the 2015 season and already we’ve seen a bunch of surprising results. First defending champion Rafael Nadal got bounced by qualifier Michael Berrer in his 2015 opener Tuesday in Doha. Then hours ago top seed and Doha debutant Novak Djokovic was stunned in three by Ivo Karlovic 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 in the QFs.
Meanwhile, last night Roger Federer struggled against someone named John Millman 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Federer was actually down a break in the second to the 153rd-ranked Australian. How the hell does that happen?
“I thought I got quite lucky,” said Federer on-court. “He was playing great tennis until maybe the last couple of games. I had to fight very hard. Credit to him for pushing me to the edge.
“I didn’t play badly, but maybe felt a bit tired at times. The first match of the season you never know quite what to expect. I am sweating like crazy. I am happy we had a good match and I got through in the end.”
Of the three, I actually rate the Federer result as the biggest surprise.
Rafa was making his return debut, so there’s some anxiety there and Berrer’s been a semi-decent player in the past.
With Karlovic, the ball really isn’t on your racquet. If Ivo serves well – and he did with 21 aces and never facing a break chance – he’s a tough out for anyone on any surface, especially during a sandstorm. And that’s what happened today.
“It was unbelievable,” said Karlovic. “When I arrived here, I didn’t expect that one. He wasn’t able to show his full range because it was windy. I just focused on my game and in the end I was a little luckier.”
But Federer almost losing to a 25-year-old Mailman, er Millman, who had never beaten a guy in the Top 75? That’s not a good start.
Luckily, though, for all three HOFers it is just that, THE START. But if it’s any indication, what a wild ride this year could be.
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