TORONTO // The end of Roger Federer's long reign as the world No 1 moved closer when he suffered a shock second-round defeat by Frenchman Gilles Simon. Back on court for the first time since his epic loss to Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final, Federer was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 and his ranking is now under serious threat from Nadal - who beat the American qualifier Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-2.
"The hard court season has just started so it is not the end of the world," Federer said. "I like this surface, I like this tournament, I have done well in the past here so it definitely hurts. "I have to regroup and look forward. The bigger picture is the Olympic Games and the US Open and those are the places I really want to win." Federer had looked ready to take out his disappointment in London on Simon when he won the first four games on the way to the opening set. But Simon, riding the momentum from his title win in Indianapolis on Sunday, refused to buckle and battled back to beat the 12-times grand slam winner.
It was the first time Federer had lost his opening match in a tournament since falling to the Briton Andy Murray in Dubai in March. TSimon represented a tricky opponent for the rusty Federer, who had only resumed practice four days before arriving in Toronto and received a first-round bye. Simon, meanwhile, was well into his hardcourt campaign after claiming his fourth career win and second title of the season in Indianapolis with a straight-sets victory over the Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
"I was playing like I was in a dream," he said. "I just saw the ball and hit it as hard as possible." Nadal, also in action for the first time since Wimbledon, fell 4-1 behind in the first set against Levine. But once the Spaniard found his range his opponent had few answers. Nadal tore through the next five games to take the first set and cruised to an easy victory. "I only had a few days practice, so it's important that I can come back and I won," he said.