Federer loses his opening match at Miami Open to Kokkinakis

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) – Roger Federer lost his second consecutive match and the No. 1 ranking Saturday.

Big-serving Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a qualifier ranked 175th, rallied to upset Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

The 36-year-old Federer had been the oldest No. 1 man ever, but he’ll lose that spot to Rafael Nadal when the new rankings come out April 2.

“I deserve it after this match,” he said. “That’s how I feel.”

Kokkinakis, facing Federer for the first time, became the lowest-ranked man to beat a No. 1 player since No. 178 Francisco Clavet upset Lleyton Hewitt in 2003. That match was also at Key Biscayne.

The 21-year-old Australian has long been regarded as a promising talent thanks to a thunderous serve and forehand, but he has been plagued by injuries.

Federer now has a losing streak after a career-best 17-0 start to the year. The match was his first since he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final Sunday, a match that also came down to a winner-take-all tiebreaker.

Federer’s defeat left both No. 1 players out of the tournament. Simona Halep was eliminated hours earlier in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

In other men’s play, American Frances Tiafoe broke serve only once – after he was two points from defeat – and that was enough to rally past No. 21-seeded Kyle Edmund 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5). No. 4 Alexander Zverev edged Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Federer’s match turned when he played a poor service game and lost it at love to fall behind 3-1 in the second set. Kokkinakis never broke again but held the rest of the way, consistently topping 125 mph with his serve.

On match point, Federer buried a backhand return in the bottom of the net. Kokkinakis screamed in celebration, waved his index finger and gestured for more noise from the appreciative capacity crowd.

The match was the last at Key Biscayne for Federer, a three-time champion. The event is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium.

Nadal will become the new No. 1 even though he missed Key Biscayne because of a hip injury that also forced him to skip Indian Wells.

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More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

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