MELBOURNE: Rivals believe Roger Federer can still add another Grand Slam to his record tally after his shock early defeat at the Australian Open.
The Swiss maestro made his earliest exit from the tournament in 14 years when he suffered a four-set loss to Italian veteran Andreas Seppi in the third round on Friday.
The defeat meant the 33-year-old star has now not won a major title since Wimbledon in 2012, raising fresh doubts as to whether he can add to his record 17 Grand Slams.
Federer, the world number two, said there was nothing to read into his latest Grand Slam loss and that he was still feeling fresh and playing at a high level.
“It’s not like I’m playing shocking or I’m feeling shocking. If I were you, I wouldn’t read very much into that,” he said.
Seppi had lost all his previous 10 encounters and had only taken one set off the Swiss before dumping him out.
Britain’s Andy Murray, who has been beaten by Federer in three of his five losing Grand Slams, said his rival still has it in him to win more majors.
“If I had to bet I would probably bet that he would win another one,” Murray said.
“He’s still playing great tennis. But Roger knows more than anyone how difficult these competitions are to win.
“Obviously, when he was playing at his peak he made it look extremely easy, but it’s not. It’s not an easy thing to do.
“You can easily lose against guys that are in the top 100 in the world. They’re all very, very good players.
“Roger was one of the favourites at the start of the event, he’s definitely still got chances to win Grand Slams.”
Murray was on course to face the second seed in the quarter-finals and shapes as one of the major beneficiaries of his absence.
He first must get past Bulgarian young gun Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round before a potential quarter-final against Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios or Seppi.
Kyrgios, 19, who toppled Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, said he had found it difficult to put aside the thought of potentially facing Federer further in the draw before his loss.
“It’s hard not to think about playing possibly the greatest of all time. Everyone wants to play Roger,” Kyrgios said.
“I can only dream about what Seppi is feeling to beat him in four sets on Rod Laver. That’s massive for him. But I get to play another great guy that’s been on tour for a long, long time.”
Fellow Aussie young gun Bernard Tomic, who could have faced Federer in the semi-finals, saw no great shock in his demise.
“It’s tennis, man. Everyone is playing. Everyone’s trying to win. It’s not easy. Everyone is here for a reason,” he said.
“Everyone in this position of the tournament is ready to play the Grand Slam. Roger lost, which is a big upset, but everyone can play tennis.”