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Federer-slayer Stakhovsky cut down to size

Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine hits a return to Jurgen Melzer of Austria during their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Champ
Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine hits a return to Jurgen Melzer of Austria during their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Champ

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The old adage that you are only as good as your last performance rang true for Sergiy Stakhovsky as he followed up the match of his life with defeat by Jurgen Melzer at Wimbledon on Friday.

Two days after beating holder and seven-times champion Roger Federer with a dashing display of old school serve and volley, Ukraine's world number 116 fizzled out in a third round loss.

"In general, if I would say anything about my match, I think I just played stupid," Stakhovsky, who lost 6-2 2-6 7-5 6-3 on a dank and drizzly Court Three told reporters.

"It would be, I think, the exact word because I played exactly how I should not play Jurgen and I should have realized that somewhere near the end of the second set."

Unseeded Stakhovsky, desperate to avoid the one-hit wonder tag, showed none of the sharpness and zip that sent Federer spinning to his worst Wimbledon showing since 2002.

It was a workmanlike performance from the dogged Melzer and Stakhovsky, clearly drained by the greatest victory of his career, could never land enough blows on the left-hander.

On Wednesday, he had played like a man possessed to end Federer's run of reaching 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals but against Melzer he fell flat after a hectic build-up.

"It was quite hard for me because yesterday was a busy day. Everybody wanted to chat. Everybody wanted a piece," he said.

WRONG TACTICS

Having beaten the most successful male player in the history of the sport using old-fashioned, net-rushing tactics which are rarely seen these days, Stakhovsky clearly felt the same approach could account for the Austrian world number 37.

He was wrong.

"I'm just a little disappointed that I got so blinded by the game I produced with Roger that I kept going with the same game when I played Jurgen, which was just not right," he said.

"If I would have been just a bit smarter on that court, I could have been a winner today."

Despite a disappointing end to his challenge, the 29-year-old has written his name into Wimbledon folklore.

"Nobody's going to take it away from me," he said. "If someone would ask me, would you rather beat Roger and lose in next round, I would always take it, obviously."

(Additional reporting by Paul Majendie; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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