Roger Federer faced world no. 98 Mardy Fish in the 2008 Indian Wells semi-final and experienced a tough loss! It was Roger's toughest hard-court defeat in terms of the rival's ranking since Indianapolis 2000 when James Sekulov (191st) ousted him 6-4, 7-5.
Also, the Swiss suffered his most brutal loss since Monte Carlo 2005, when he fell to Richard Gasquet. After four dominant years on the men's Tour, Federer had to slow down a bit in 2008. The Swiss grabbed four titles and suffered 15 losses, a significant number after experiencing only 24 between 2004 and 2007.
Novak Djokovic toppled him in straight sets in the Australian Open semi-final, and Andy Murray ousted him at the start of Dubai. The Swiss traveled to Indian Wells eager to improve his form and restore order at the event he had won three titles in the previous four years.
Federer lost 14 games in the first three encounters against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Nicolas Mahut and Ivan Ljubicic to enter the last eight. Tommy Haas gave him a walkover, and Roger set the clash against world no. 98 Mardy Fish.
The American kicked off the season ranked inside the top-40 but lost the ground in the first couple of months. He entered Indian Wells ranked barely inside the top-100 after failing to defend the points in the previous tournaments.
He picked up the form in the desert and played one of his best matches ever to topple Federer 6-3, 6-2 in 64 minutes and advance to his second Masters 1000 final after Cincinnati 2003! It was their sixth meeting and the first triumph for Mardy, who had dropped the last nine sets against the great Swiss.
Fish left Federer behind despite serving at 34%. The American drew the most from his initial shot and dropped 13 points in his games, saving the only break point and keeping the pressure on the other side. Roger struggled to find the rhythm, and his serve was exposed by Mardy's deep and precise returns.
Roger Federer suffered a tough loss against Mardy Fish in Indian Wells 2008.
World no. 1 dropped 43% of the points in his games and got broken three times from seven chances offered to the American. Fish controlled his shots more efficiently, finishing the encounter with 26 winners and 19 unforced errors.
On the other hand, Federer hit 14 winners and sprayed 25 mistakes, not enough at least for a set. Mardy made the best start and fired a forehand winner in the encounter's second game to secure a break. Federer could have pulled it back in the next game, netting a return on the break chance, the only one he would create.
The American completed the game with two aces and forged a 3-0 lead after just nine minutes. The Swiss was far below his usual level. He faced two break points in the fourth game and denied them, bringing the game home and reducing the deficit to 3-1.
Fish served well in the remaining games and held at 15 at 5-3 after Federer's forehand error to grab the opener in style. Things went from bad to worse for world no. 1. Roger got broken at the beginning of the second set after Mardy's return winner, and the American fired an ace in game two for a 6-3, 2-0 advantage.
Federer's return stayed somewhere on the practice court, and Fish grabbed another game with a service winner to increase the lead to 3-1 and move closer to the finish line. Mardy's triumph became inevitable after a break in game five and a hold at love a few minutes later.
Federer served to stay in the match at 1-5 after only an hour and faced two match points. He saved them and brought the game home to reduce the deficit to 5-2 and extend the battle. However, it was all over when Fish held at 15 in game eight for his most significant victory in a career and a place in the final against Novak Djokovic.