The year 2018 has been one of three parts for the legend Roger Federer. In the first six months he got three titles, including the Australian Open. The fact that he played just five tournaments in that period proved the dominance of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
After winning at Stuttgart, his tally of career titles won stood at 98; he was expected to reach triple figures comfortably by the end of the season. But in the next four months, the Swiss Maestro's form waned with him reaching just two finals in five tournament appearances, which comprised of Wimbledon and the US Open as well. He was also knocked out in the semifinal of the Shanghai Masters in early October.
In the next month though, he sent strong signals of a return to form, winning the Swiss Indoors event at Basel. Federer also ground out Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters semifinal, losing by a whisker without losing serve even once.
Still, Federer would've expected a better haul this season after the start he got. Here, we look at the five players who registered shocking upsets over the Swiss this season.
#5 Kei Nishikori, Round Robin - ATP Tour Finals
Federer was in great form coming into the year-ending tournament, having experienced a late surge in his level of play. He started his campaign for a 100th ATP title against Kei Nishikori in the group stage. But his game suffered a stunning downfall, as he made more than 30 unforced errors in two sets.
The World No. 3 did not lose the match because Nishikori figured his game out in the space of a month and two encounters; he lost because his quality deteriorated dramatically!
The Japanese did his part, winning a good 70% of his second serve points in the first set which involved a tiebreaker. His return game was decent and he got a good amount of balls back in the second set.
Still, you would have to acknowledge that Federer's drop in level was the major deciding factor in this result - as reinforced by Nishikori's lopsided losses in his two subsequent matches.
#4 Borna Coric, Halle Open & Shanghai Masters
Coming off the high of winning the Stuttgart Open, Federer also made the final of the last event in the run-up to Wimbledon - his favourite hunting ground, Halle.
In the first set he missed a break point in Game 10, after which he had a couple of set points in the tiebreak. But he let them both slip and Borna Coric won four points in a row to clinch the set.
Federer came right back, overcoming a bit of pressure on serve in Game 3 to eventually break in the 8th. He served the set into his pocket to take the match into the decider.
The third set seemed equally poised with Coric serving at 2-all, but something clicked him into overdrive and he won four straight games to complete a memorable upset.
The semifinal at Shanghai was a much easier affair for the Croatian. That tournament saw a marked improvement in his backhand and serve, and Federer had no answer.
The Swiss was broken in the first game of each of the two sets and didn't look like coming back at any stage. Coric won 21 points off the Federer serve and didn't concede even a single break point on his own serve.
Not too many people can upset Roger Federer twice in a year, can they?
#3 Thanasi Kokkinakis, Miami Masters
Even before the lull in form started for Federer, he conceded an upset to a player ranked outside the top 100.
After losing out in the final at Indian Wells, Federer came into the Miami Open with his sole focus on winning the trophy. Meanwhile, Thanasi Kokkinakis had qualified for the main draw by virtue of winning the qualifiers, and he won his Round of 128 match to set up a daunting contest with the master.
Federer started off in style, coasting to a one-set lead. But he faced a strong response from the young Australian, who after facing pressure in his first service game of Set 2 broke the Swiss' serve to love in game 4. He then comfortably held the rest of his serves and got a set back.
In the decider, Kokkinakis warded off 2 break points in a single game and took it to the tie break. There, he edged Federer 7-4 to complete a brilliant come-from-behind upset.
#2 Kevin Anderson, Wimbledon
Federer had breezed through the initial rounds of Wimbledon 2018 to set up a quarterfinal contest with Kevin Anderson. He got into his groove early and destroyed Anderson in the first set, getting a couple of breaks to win it 6-2.
The second set proved to be a confidence-booster for the South African, who took a two-nil lead. Although Federer broke right back and clinched the set in the tiebreaker, that was the slight momentum shift Anderson needed.
In the third set Anderson, after saving a match point in the 10th game, broke serve in the next. Federer applied intense pressure in Game 12 as he returned to stay in the set, going 0-40 up, but Anderson handled the situation calmly to take the set.
He took the fourth set as well, yet again saving a break point while serving for the set to win it 6-4.
In a marathon fifth set both the players held serve quite comfortably for a long time, except when Federer had a break point at 4-3. Finally, in the 23rd game, Anderson broke serve. He then confidently served out the match to inflict heartbreak upon Team Roger Federer.
#1 John Millman, US Open
Much like at Wimbledon, Federer looked very good in the initial rounds of this year's US Open. That was until his pre-quarterfinal clash with John Millman.
He won the first set quite easily after getting a break off his opponent's very first service game and subsequently holding on to his serve. He went into the lead in the second set as well, breaking serve in game 5; the fact that his serve was under fire in the second game of the set seemed to have been forgotten.
However, while serving for the set at 5-4, he conceded the break back. Millman made him pay, taking the next two games as well to bag the set.
The third set was played on serve, but in the tiebreak the Australian won 9-7 after saving a set point.
Federer looked like he would stage a comeback when he went 4-2 up in the fourth, but Millman broke back to set up yet another tiebreaker. This time he won it more easily, by the score of 7-3, to stop Federer from a chance to get Grand Slam No. 21 in 2018.