Roger Federer (SUI) returns a shot against Tomas Berdych (CZE) on day ten of the 2012 US Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK (USA TODAY) - Roger Federer's U.S. Open ended in disappointment Monday.
Much like his season.
Federer had trouble finding his range, and the mistakes piled up in a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4 loss to Tommy Robredo of Spain.
"I struggled throughout, which is not very satisfying, to be honest," Federer said. "Tommy did a good job to keep the ball in play and make it difficult for me today. I missed so many opportunities. Rhythm was off. Yeah, when those things happen, clearly it's always going to be difficult, you know."
At age 32, Federer has struggled with a bad back and experimented with a larger racket head, and all along, he's had far more trouble winning matches than he usually does - particularly against the sort of players he barely broke a sweat against at his peak.
That this defeat came against Robredo made it all the more stunning. He's been ranked as high as No. 5, albeit back in 2006, and this is his seventh trip to the quarterfinals at a major. He made it that far at this year's French Open by doing something no man had done since 1927, winning three matches in a row after dropping the first two sets of each.
But consider these other facts about Robredo and this matchup: Not only was he 0-10 against Federer until Monday, he'd managed to win only three of the 27 previous sets they'd played. And before Monday, Robredo's record in the fourth round of the U.S. Open was 0-7.
So Federer's Grand Slam year ends with one semifinals appearance (Australian Open), one quarterfinals loss (French Open) and fourth-round loss (U.S. Open) and a second-round loss at Wimbledon.
That Wimbledon loss ended a record run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
It's the first year since 2002 Federer has gone through a full season without reaching a major final.
Because of a four-hour-plus rain delay, Federer's match was moved to Louis Armstrong Stadium ... he had not played on Armstrong since 2006. His only previous loss came in 2000.
Robredo, ranked No. 22, will move inside the top 20 for the first time since 2010.
Federer has only one title in 2013, and he went through a stretch where he lost matches to three players ranked outside the top 50.
It's Federer's earliest exit in New York since 2003.
"I've definitely got to go back to work and come back stronger, you know, get rid of this loss now as quick as I can, forget about it, because that's not how I want to play from here on," Federer said. "I want to play better. I know I can. I showed it the last few weeks, that there is that level. So today was pretty frustrating."