Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Marat Safin in the second round at Wimbledon on Wednesday, ending the Serb's chances of testing his theory about Roger Federer's vulnerability.
The No. 75-ranked Safin won 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2, stunning the 21-year-old Serbian who was ranked third and came into Wimbledon full of confidence after beating top-ranked Federer in the semifinals at the Australian Open en route to his first Grand Slam title.
But Djokovic came up against one of the toughest second-round opponents he could have drawn.
Former No. 1 Safin has won two Grand Slam titles and also had an upset against Federer in Australia, beating the Swiss star in the semifinals there in 2005.
Djokovic had said Federer, bidding for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon crown, was vulnerable after his recent lopsided French Open loss to No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal.
The hype surrounding those comments set up an enticing semifinal. Now, it will be Safin who tries to go down that path.
Djokovic seemed to be vulnerable himself, playing on a surface he his not entirely comfortable on and struggling with his serve in a blustery breeze. After saving three match points, he served a double-fault to give Safin a fourth, then double-faulted again to concede.
He shook his head as he walked forward, and hugged Safin across the net.
Grass is not Safin's favored surface, either. Wimbledon is the only major where he has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals. But he is a dangerous opponent now.
Safin said he came in under the radar, with Djokovic under all the pressure.
"He's the one who has to win matches. For me, nobody expects anything," said Safin, who admitted he had not dared look beyond the second round. "Now, I'll have to check the way I'm playing now, I could go far."