London: Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer says he “did not see defeat coming” before a shock quarter-final exit against Kevin Anderson.
Top seed Federer, 36, had not dropped a set on his way to the last eight.
He missed a match point when two sets up before eighth seed Anderson fought back to win a remarkable contest.
“I felt great in practice, good in the warm-up. I’m feeling the ball well,” the Swiss said. “It just happened to be that today wasn’t the day.”
Federer had been the favourite to win a record-extending ninth men’s singles title, but was beaten in a contest that lasted more than four hours.
He equalled his own record of winning 34 consecutive sets at SW19 by taking the the first two against Anderson.
The defending champion had not dropped a service game at this year’s championships either – part of a run spanning 85 games – until Anderson broke him in the second set.
Anderson’s comeback victory is only the second time Federer has lost at Wimbledon after leading by two sets, following a quarter-final defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011.
“It’s disappointing losing the next two sets after winning the first two and having match points,” said Federer.
“I’ve been there before. I know what kind of energy I need to bring to the fifth. I was able to bring that.
“I didn’t feel mental fatigue. Now I feel horribly fatigued and just awful. It’s just terrible.”
Federer suffered his earliest exit at Wimbledon since a shock second-round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 37 next month, says he plans to return to SW19 next year.
“The losses hurt more, you don’t want to be on the loser’s side,” he said.
“It motivates me to do extremely well here because I don’t want to sit here and explain my loss. That’s the worst feeling you can have as a tennis player.”