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Giant killer Sergiy Stakhovsky takes eye off the ball

Sergiy Stakhovsky plays a backhand volley.
by Stuart Fraser
Friday 28 June 2013

Following up the biggest victory of your life is never easy. Just ask Lukas Rosol and George Bastl.

Sergiy Stakhovsky became the latest Wimbledon giant killer to crash out after claiming a major upset at the All England Club. Stakhovsky was beaten 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 by Jurgen Melzer in the third round but can still take away the fond memories from a famous win over Roger Federer on Centre Court.

The Ukrainian was a man in demand on Thursday, having to deal with countless media requests and attention that a player ranked No.116 is not generally used to. Riding on the crest of a wave, he feels he took his eye off the ball when coming up with a gameplan against Melzer.

“I think I just played stupid,” said Stakhovsky.  “It would be I think the exact word of showing how I should not play Jurgen, and I should have realized that somewhere in the end of the second set. I should mix up. I should never play the same shot against Jurgen. He was returning much better today than Roger.

“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 I played against Jurgen, which was just not right. If I would just be a bit more smarter on that court, I could have been a winner today, I think.

“It was quite hard for me because yesterday was a busy day. Everybody wanted to chat. Everybody wanted a piece. I mean, not that I'm denying a lot, but it just takes some time and energy off. I was trying to get out of Wimbledon as soon as I could. I think I left around 4 or 5pm, but I gave a lot of interviews that day.

“Next time if I'm able to produce such a result, beating a top player on a Grand Slam or any other event, I'll be more prepared and I will know how to behave myself. Today was just a new experience for me which I was not prepared for.’’

Stakhovsky made an inauspicious start, double-faulting twice to lose serve in the first game. He then had to receive treatment on his right ankle at 1-3 after he slipped on the grass when approaching the net. He returned to the court but was clearly not confident in his movement and went on to drop the opening set.

Stakhovsky quickly recovered to storm to the second set in just 30 minutes, but Melzer’s returns were the telling difference in the final two sets as he repeatedly passed Stakhovsky who, just like against Federer, was not afraid to approach the net.

As had been the pattern throughout, Melzer won the match with a stunning forehand pass to become the first man to clinch a place in the fourth round, in which he will face a tough match against the big-hitting Jerzy Janowicz, the No.24 seed from Poland.

“I have to get my returns going,” said Melzer, the world No.37. “Usually I don’t mind playing big servers. Let’s see. The key will be to return his serve, get a read and to get as many balls back as possible.”

If Melzer can get past Janowicz, the highest seed he can face in the quarter-finals would be France’s Benoit Paire, the No.25 seed, although Andy Murray would be a likely opponent in the semi-finals. But with a number of big names having departed, 32-year-old Melzer cannot avoid sensing a chance to go far here.

“There has been so much talk about it that you can’t ignore it,” admitted the Austrian. “But if I don’t win the match, I don’t have to think about that. Sure I know that Paire is the highest seed in my quarter if I beat Janowicz. We will see. I’m playing well, I’m feeling great, so let’s take it one at a time.”

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