Top-seeded Roger Federer loses to James Blake
BEIJING -- Roger Federer's Olympic moment was, for the third time, a glum one.
The world's No. 1 player, currently going through a rocky streak, was upset in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament here Thursday night by American James Blake.
Blake won, 6-4, 7-6 (2), marking the first time he had ever beaten Federer, although he had always gone into the matches with an upbeat attitude.
"The results haven't been good," he said, "but I've always felt I could win."
Thursday night, while Federer struggled -- especially with a first serve -- Blake swung from the heels and, unlike previous matches with Federer, the shots went in more often than not.
They held serve until Federer got to 4-5 of the first set. Blake got the set point by wrong-footing Federer on a deep ground stroke and then keeping him off balance for the next swing, which he netted.
Blake then ran out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Federer got back on serve and they carried on into the tiebreaker at 6-6, when, uncharacteristically, Federer cracked. He missed an open passing shot at 1-3, hit a forehand long for 2-5, and that put the match on Blake's racket with two serves.
Blake hit a deep approach and Federer netted his answer. Then, on match point, Federer went meekly, returning Blake's serve long.
Federer, No. 1 in the world for most of the last four years and the owner of 12 Grand Slam titles, second only to Pete Sampras' 14, will lose his No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal next week. Federer has not won a major title this year and had looked on the Olympics as a steppingstone for saving his year here, and at the upcoming U.S. Open.
Federer failed to win an Olympic medal in both Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. He remains in the running in doubles here, but said Wednesday night that he expected, were he to win a medal, to have it be in singles.
"If I were to bet my house, it would be singles," he said.
Blake was seeded No. 8 here and became the top U.S. player in the men's draw when Andy Roddick chose not to play.
-- Bill Dwyre
Photo: Top-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland is out of the Olympic singles competition after losing to James Blake of the United States. Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola