By Chad Hoyle
Day 3 of the 2013 Wimbledon Championship will forever be remembered as the most injury laden day in the history of the Grand Slam era, and for the premature exit of one of the game's best.
In a remarkable upset, surely the greatest of the tournament if not for Rafael Nadal's ousting two days prior, Roger Federer fell in a battle against Ukrainian Sergiy Stakovsky 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5). Federer clearly did not expect such a hard-fought match from an opponent ranked 116 in the world, but Stakovsky fought harder and forced Federer to make mistakes, such as a wild backhand return in the fourth set tiebreak to give the match away. Federer looked noticeably less spry and struggled to keep up during the match, affirming general theories that the player, formerly unbeatable on the surface, has finally degraded with age. The loss marks the first time in 36 Grand Slam events that Federer did not reach the event quarterfinals.
The day also marked the exit of several notable players due to injuries sustained during their matches, attributed mainly to the effect of humid conditions on the lush grass court surfaces. The matches that made it to the finish were battles of attrition- in most cases, the victory was earned by the player who remained upright the longest.
Within the first five hours of the day's play, the following players withdrew from their matches:
* John Isner: Top ranked American and ranked 21st in the world.
* Steve Darcis: Forced Nadal out of the tournament the previous round
* Radek Stepanek: Czech Republic, World Rank #45
* Marin Cilic: Croatia, ATP Rank #12
* Yaroslava Shvedova: Russia, WTA Rank #55
* Jo Wilfried Tsonga: 2013 French Open Semifinalist, World Rank #7
* Victoria Azarenka: No. 2 seed in tournament and heavily favored to win
Amid the multiple withdrawals, Maria Sharapova, 2013 French Open finalist and a major threat to win the title, was upset by Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-3, 6-4. Because she finished her match, Sharapova was not included in the body count, but still considered the loss a byproduct of numerous falls on the wet grass. Sharapova, following a nasty spill during play, exclaimed, "the court is dangerous..." to the umpire, summarizing many similar sentiments of the players who prematurely retired from the event. Azarenka sharing related concerns after her withdrawal, stated "I don't know if it's the court or the weather. I can't figure it out."
Despite the injuries, representatives of the All England Club are denying any allegations that the surface of play is a contributor, claiming that their preparation for the event is no different than previous years. However, in quiet response, an extra week has been scheduled between the French Open and this event in 2015, allowing the players an additional week to adjust from the clay to the grass surface.
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