As shocks go, the loss of Roger Federer in only the third round of the Australian Open takes some beating, but that is precisely what has happened in Melbourne today. The world number two seed was expected to feature prominently in this year's championship, but his chase for a fifth Grand Slam title Down Under has failed much earlier than expected. The Swiss number one lost in four sets to the Italian Andreas Seppi, ranked number 46 in the world, 6-4 7-6 4-6 7-6.

The 33-year-old Federer had required four sets to win his previous match in Australia, but that was believed to be a temporary blip due to a minor finger injury that he sustained during the match.

His opponent Seppi was not expected to provide him with much trouble, having lost every match they had previously played on the tour, a run of ten defeats in all against the 17-time Grand Slam winner. The Italian's record against anyone in the top ten suggested that he usually struggles to overcome the (so-called) better players in the draw, having lost 23 times in a row when faced with players from the top ten.

For 30-year-old Seppi it was a welcome victory for a player who has made a solid living out of the game, without really making a major mark on it in the bigger events, having been a professional since 2002. The right-hander has just three titles on the tour to his name over his career and a highest ranking just inside the top twenty from 2013.

By beating Federer, he has reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the second time, but has never progressed further. Indeed he has never gone beyond the fourth round in any of the Grand Slam tournaments so far.

Federer is hardly a spent force on the tour one feels, but his fans must be a little concerned by this early departure from an event he has traditionally done well in, having now failed to take a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012. He has often proved his doubters wrong in the past and bounced back to play some wonderful and extremely competitive Tennis at the business end of the tournaments, with last year being a prime example as he battled manfully to take Novak Djokovic's top ranking from him during much of the year. Yet the years must surely be catching up with him and with a young family to draw (at least some of) his attention away from the courts, it will be intriguing to see how he performs at the rest of the Slams this year and also whether he decides to continue his career for much longer or not.