Vol. 5 Num 990 Wed. March 14, 2007  

Federer fizzles in California sun

Roger Federer's consecutive match win streak was halted in shocking fashion here Sunday as he failed to muster a challenge against the hard-charging Argentine dynamo Guillermo Canas.

"Many times in matches I win I fear I am not going to turn it around," said Federer, following his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Canas in his opening match of the Pacific Life Open Masters Series tournament.

"I just feel this guy is playing probably better than me and I need some kind of miracle to get out of it.

"And today was no different. Today wasn't the day I could come back for some reason."

The last man to defeat Federer was British number one and Scotsman Andy Murray at the Cincinnati Master Series event in August and this was Federer's first opening match loss since 2004 at the same Cincinnati tournament.

"I've had an incredible run not losing in the first round for, I think, over two years," Federer said. "So I am really happy about that. Sooner or later it had to happen."

The 25-year-old Swiss superstar was a three-time defending champion in Indian Wells and was seeking his eighth straight ATP tournament title.

Federer had also won 41 straight matches and six more would have set an ATP record of 47 consecutive wins, breaking another Argentine Guillermo Vilas' record of 46, set 30 years ago.

Federer downplayed the shocking end to his winning streak on Sunday and when asked if this took some pressure off his game, he said, "No, I would rather face it. You think it is pressure. It is no pressure because I take it match by match.

"And you guys think it takes a (tournament victory) to break the record. I'm concerned about winning my first round match against a lucky loser.

"There you go. It just shows you how tough it is."

Besides the match winning streak, Federer had his sights on a number of other historic records at the Pacific Life Open.

He has 495 career match victories and needs five more to reach the 500 mark.

Federer's 41-match win streak places him in fifth place all-time in a tie with Swedish superstar Bjorn Borg. The only players ahead of him are Vilas (46), Ivan Lendl (44) and John McEnroe (42).

Beating Federer is not yet old hat for Canas but he has done it before, taking two of their three career meetings.

In 2002, Canas defeated Federer 7-6 (12/10), 7-5 in the opening round of a hardcourt tournament in Toronto.

Federer said there are similarities between the matches.

"I played him years ago in Toronto and it was really hot and I was the favourite too. I ended up losing to him and he ended up winning the tournament," Federer said.

Despite a pair of injury timeouts, Federer was well enough to play and win his doubles match Sunday night immediately following his singles loss.

"I teamed up with a partner (Yves Allegro) and faced a few good guys," Federer said. "I wanted to shake it off after I lost in singles. It hasn't happened in a long time."

World number one Roger Federer of Switzerland is distraught at his defeat at the hands of Guillermo Canas of Argentina in the first round at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells California on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP