NEW YORK - Roger Federer was clinging to the wreckage of his battered legacy on Tuesday after crashing to another humiliating Grand Slam defeat.
The 32-year-old Swiss, the holder of a record 17 major titles, suffered his earliest US Open exit for a decade when Tommy Robredo, who had lost all 10 previous meetings with him, clinched a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round win.
But Federer is not for quitting despite a year in which he failed to reach a final of any of the Grand Slams for the first time since 2002.
"I've definitely got to go back to work and come back stronger, get rid of this loss now as quick as I can, forget about it, because that's not how I want to play from here on," Federer said. "I want to play better. I know I can."
Worryingly for Federer are the cold, cruel statistics of his defeat to the 31-year-old Robredo.
He won only two of 16 break-point chances and while he hit 45 winners, he also made 43 unforced errors.
"The story of my life - when I lose, people are shellshocked to see me play this way. If I win, it's the best thing," Federer said.
"I can see that. But there's no doubt about it, I'm trying hard out there trying to make it work. Sometimes it just doesn't happen."
It hasn't been happening at all in New York since he captured the last of his five titles in 2008.
The following year, he was defeated in the final by Juan Martin Del Potro in five sets despite being two sets to one to the good.
In 2010, Federer lost a five-set semi-final to Novak Djokovic with the Serb winning again 12 months later at the same stage, again in five sets having been two sets to love ahead.