GSTAAD, Switzerland (AP) — His game inconsistent and his new racket not offering much help, Roger Federer lost yet again to a player way down in the rankings.
The Swiss star fell 6-3, 6-4 to Germany's Daniel Brands in the second round of the Swiss Open on Thursday, the third straight tournament in which he made a startling exit.
Playing on clay and before home fans, Federer was troubled by the serve and big forehand of his 55th-ranked opponent.
"I wasn't consistent enough in the end," said Federer, who failed on five break-point chances. "He was serving well and I couldn't do enough with my return."
Federer's other losses in the past month were to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon and No. 114 Federico Delbonis at Hamburg, Germany.
The top-seeded Swiss is now ranked No. 5, his lowest in a decade since he started his run of 17 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 2003.
Federer saved a first match point by serving an ace when trailing 5-3, and a second in the next game with a forehand winner. Brands, who took a set off Federer in a second-round loss at Hamburg, then ended the 65-minute match with a service winner in the thin mountain air.
"For sure the altitude has helped me," Brands said. "I served well and put pressure on him from the very beginning."
The 31-year-old Federer was returning to Gstaad for the first time since he won the title in 2004 and where he debuted on the ATP Tour in 1998 as a 17-year-old ranked No. 702.
Federer rarely loses an opening match. This defeat ranks alongside that of his round-of-64 exit in straight sets at Indian Wells, Calif., in March 2007 to Guillermo Canas of Argentina, then ranked No. 60.