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Roger Federer has dropped a worrying admission after his historic defeat at the Halle grass-court tournament that doesn't bode well for his hopes of a fairytale title at Wimbledon next month.
The Swiss maestro is a 10-time winner at Halle - a traditional warm-up event for the Wimbledon grand slam - but he crashed out in just the second round against Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime.
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Federer's 4-6 6-3 6-2 loss to the 20-year-old was his earliest ever exit at the tournament in Germany.
More concerning perhaps was the fact the Swiss star blamed his attitude and said he was disappointed with his own game.
“It was not a good attitude from my side. I was disappointed in the way I was feeling on-court, the way things were going,” Federer said.
“I think all the difficulty of the comeback got to me as well a little bit — how much I have to push on every point, try to make things happen. I realised it was not going to be my day.
“There was nothing I could do. I started to get really negative and this is not normally how I am. It’s not something I’m happy and proud about.
“At the same time, if you look at my 1500 matches I’ve played, these things can happen. The good thing is that I know it won’t happen the next time.”
In an illustration of just how out-of-sorts the 20-time grand slam winner was, Federer made the media wait 2.5 hours before fronting for his press conference and even then, only fielded questions in English, when he would normally happily speak in French and German too.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to take the time between the match and the press conference, to truly understand why I did feel this way,” he said.
“I need to understand why it’s going on and, again, I got a lot of information from Paris. Also from Geneva and Doha in particular and then changing surfaces is not easy.
“It’s important for me to take the right decisions moving forward for Wimbledon and for the rest of the season because this type of third set I cannot accept.
“The third set, I was unhappy about how it how it ended. You know, similar to Geneva and in some ways where I felt like I played actually good in spells but it was up and down.”
Tennis reporter Tumaini Carayol said he couldn't remember ever seeing Federer only field questions in English before.
“He asked for only English questions today, meaning Swiss journalists were asking him questions in English,” Carayol tweeted.
“Not sure I’ve ever seen that before.”
Big blow to Federer's Wimbledon preparations
The 39-year-old squandered a one-set lead, losing in one hour and 44 minutes against a player who is 19 years younger to the day.
"It's amazing, for sure I didn't expect this," Auger Aliassime told Eurosport after beating one of his heroes at the first attempt on the ATP tour.
"I wanted to win, but Roger Federer is my idol and it was a huge honour to play him.
"I always thought he would be gone by the time I joined the tour.
"I was a little nervous when I realised I could win, but I was playing really well, almost perfect tennis."
The pair share the same birthday of 8 August, but the 19-year gap in ages was the biggest Federer has faced in any of his 1,521 career matches.
The loss comes as a brutal blow to Federer's preparations for Wimbledon - his favourite grand slam which starts on June 28.
The 20-time grand slam winner, who turns 40 next birthday, has rarely played this year after double knee surgery and has said he is targeting a fairytale run at Wimbledon.
The Swiss legend pulled out of the fourth round of the French Open last week to give himself extra rest and prepare for the grass-court season.
Halle is his traditional grass-court warm-up event before Wimbledon and he won the tournament played near Bielefeld for the 10th time in 2019.
As the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Federer was the defending champion in Halle.
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