Federer hits the self-destruct button but refuses to accept his time is up
in New York
A dejected Roger Federer has admitted he self-destructed as his decline continued with a straight-sets defeat by Tommy Robredo in the fourth round of the US Open.
Two months after he was beaten by Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at Wimbledon, Switzerland's 17-times grand slam champion slumped to a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 defeat against a man he had not lost to in ten previous meetings.
Monday night's defeat continues a miserable season for the 32-year-old, who has dropped from world number one to number seven in less than 12 months and has failed to reach a grand slam final for the first time since 2002.
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It also means there will be no first meeting at Flushing Meadows between Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets.
Federer said: "I kind of feel like I beat myself, without taking any credit away from Tommy. Clearly he was making sure he was making many balls. It was up to me to make the difference and I couldn't.
"I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing, especially on a quicker court. Your serve helps you out. You're going to make the difference somewhere.
"I just couldn't do it. It was a frustrating performance."
With the humidity level at 91 per cent, perhaps it was not surprising that Federer never looked comfortable. He was not moving well, tactically he was suspect, and 43 errors in three sets betrayed an understandable lack of confidence.
The statistic that really hurt the Swiss was only two break points won from 16 chances, and Robredo made sure he played the solid match his opponent tried desperately to find but could not.
Federer remains convinced he can find his best form again, saying: "It just ended up being a bad combination of many things. So I've definitely got to go back to work and come back stronger, get rid of this loss now as quick as I can because that's not how I want to play from here on.
"I want to play better. I know I can. I showed it the last few weeks, that there is that level," he added.
Last Saturday, Robredo had to fight to avoid being taken to a deciding set by British qualifier Dan Evans. He prevailed, and it has been a superb year for the Spaniard, who was ranked 471st when he came back from thigh surgery last spring.
Robredo said: "It's amazing. For me, Roger for the moment is the best player of all time. And to beat him in a huge stadium like the US Open and in a match of best of five sets, it's like a dream.
"I am so, so happy. I am in the quarter-finals again. It was a great day."
Nadal also struggled to take his chances and it cost him in the first set against 22nd seed Kohlschreiber, who saved three set points before winning the tie-break. But once the Spaniard forged ahead in the second set, he was always in the ascendancy and he ran out a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 winner after a gruelling three hours and 12 minutes.
The other quarter-final in the bottom half will pit fourth seed David Ferrer against eighth seed Richard Gasquet.
Spain's Ferrer toughed out a 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) win over Janko Tipsarevic, while Gasquet won a titanic struggle against 10th seed Milos Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 after four hours and 40 minutes.
The Frenchman, once known for his lack of bottle, saved a match point in the fourth-set tie-break and ended an 11-match losing streak in the fourth round of grand slams dating back to 2008.