After 55 wins in North America in last two years, Federer loses

Thursday, August 17, 2006

MASON, Ohio -- Roger Federer was the only one who saw it coming.

Too much tennis, too little time off.

The world's top player knew it was the perfect combination for a long-awaited upset, one that a disbelieving British teenager pulled off Wednesday.

Andy Murray's 7-5, 6-4 victory in the second round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters ended Federer's 55-match winning streak in North America and provided his earliest tournament exit in two years.

The streak included two U.S. Open titles that helped stamp Federer as one of the sport's all-time best players.

"The streaks? I don't care about those now that they're over," said Federer, who hadn't lost in straight sets in his last 194 matches. "It's going to be a relief for everybody, and now we can move on."

Federer's last loss on the continent also came at the Cincinnati-area tournament, when Dominik Hrbaty beat him in the first round on Aug. 3, 2004.

The loss left Federer 62-5 this year and ended his bid to match one of the sport's enduring marks. He had reached the final of his last 17 tournaments since June 2005, one shy of matching Ivan Lendl's Open era record of 18 straight such finishes since 1981 and 1982.

Murray became only the second player to beat Federer this year, joining No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Federer had won his previous 19 matches, and was 85-2 on hard courts over the last two years.

"I didn't know how to react at the end," Murray said, "because I definitely was not planning on winning the match."

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