Tennis: Federer knocked out by Seppi in Australian Open, earliest exit in 14 years

Roger Federer during his match against Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open. Second seed Federer was bundled out in third round by Seppi on Friday, suffering his first career defeat in 11 meetings between the pair in the 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6
Roger Federer during his match against Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open. Second seed Federer was bundled out in third round by Seppi on Friday, suffering his first career defeat in 11 meetings between the pair in the 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) loss. -- PHOTO: EPA

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Second seed Roger Federer was bundled out of tennis' Australian Open in third round by Italian Andreas Seppi on Friday, suffering his first career defeat in 11 meetings between the pair in the 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) loss.

The 17-time grand slam champion has not lost this early in the season-opening major event since his second trip to Melbourne Park in 2001, when he also lost in the third round.

"I just tried to enjoy playing on centre court again," Seppi said in a courtside interview after his victory. "It's not often you get the chance to play on centre court.

"I just tried to play my best and I did because I was playing Roger.

"You never feel comfortable playing against Roger, but I was focusing on my service game, I didn't have many chances on his serve."

The 33-year-old Swiss great struggled with his first serve early in the match, while the 30-year-old Seppi took advantage of three of his five break points to take a two sets to love lead.

Federer broke in the third game of the third set to begin what many on Rod Laver Arena thought would be a successful fightback.

Seppi, however, forced a tie-break in the fourth and clinched victory with a desperate lunging forehand past the charging Swiss at the net to set up a fourth round clash with either Australian Nick Kyrigos or Tunisia's Malek Jaziri.