Federer beaten in Dubai against a player ranked outside the top 100

Russian Evgeny Donskoy beat the 18-time Grand Slam winner

Roger Federer

Image: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

Roger Federer is out of the Dubai Championship after being beaten by number 116 ranked Evgeny Donskoy in their last 16 encounter last night.

The Russian lost the opening set in just under 24 minutes, as the 18-time Grand Slam champion looked to be cruising.

Both men held their serves right the way through the second set, but Donskoy held his nerve to take the second set tie-break by nine points to seven. Federer will have felt even more aggrieved at losing the set after he squandered three match points.

In the third set, Federer broke in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He then went 5-3 up and was a service game away from reaching the quarter-finals, but much to the resilience of the Russian he broke back.

Donskoy then went on to win the next two games breaking Federer and he himself had a chance to put the second set to bed, holding a 6-5 lead with his own service game to follow. Similarly, Federer broke straight back and forced another tie break.

The third set tie break was extraordinary. Federer raced into a 5-1 lead and the tie looked all but over until, remarkably Donskoy won 6 consecutive points to complete an amazing comeback and take the breaker by 7-5.

"I just didn’t know Donskoy," he told ATP's official website after the match. "So many times I didn’t know what his patterns were. I didn’t know what his preferences are. If he does hit a big forehand down the line, is that normal or is that just right now?

"Is he going to do that on big points or not? I had my chances. I should somehow close it out. He did very well. It’s a rough one, for sure.

"I just never really got going tonight and sort of felt heavy. But, look, those matches happen frequently, where you just have to somehow find a way to come through. Tonight I just didn’t."

Federer will take to the court next at the BNP Paribas open in Indian Wells, which starts 9 March. He will be going for his fifth title at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Words: Robert Fanning