Julien Benneteau ended Roger Federer's chance for a 77th career title and third Rotterdam crown with a 6-3, 7-5 upset of the #2 ranked Swiss. It was the Frenchman's 2nd career victory over Roger, the first coming in the Paris Indoors in 2009.
It was a rocky match from start to finish for Roger. He was broken in the opening game of the match, and though he broke back a few games later, never found his range and was broken another two times to lose the first set in the blink of an eye. In the second it got worse as he was broken at 1-2 and went down 4-1 before winning 12 of 14 points to get things even. Benneteau quickly regained his composure however and righted the ship. He forced Fed to serve to stay in the match at 5-6 and couldn't, as he double faulted at 30-30 and sent a backhand wide on match point.
The loss brings Roger to 7-2 in the young season. Perhaps more importantly, he will lose points and likely confidence as he didn't play well throughout the match and never really felt "in it."
If there is a positive coming from the loss, it was Fed's fighting ability, which he has shown numerous times since his loss to Djokovic at the US Open in 2011. He fought back in the second set even when no part of his game was really working, and he at least made Benneteau earn it.
There isn't really much to say other than the Frenchman was the better player and deserved the win. Roger wasn't serving well and Julien took his chances and played his brand of attacking tennis to perfection. It was a bad day, and he's bound to have more and more of them as time goes on (he is 31 going on 32 after all).
Next up on the schedule for Federer is Dubai, where he is of course the defending champion. It'll be a tough task to win again, but it is possible. Right now, it's time for more practice (first serve specifically I'm sure) and preparation to be ready. Having a good tournament after this loss will go a long way to help the confidence.
PS: I know there are many "sky is falling" thoughts out there now, but it's really not all that bad. Benneteau has always been a tough match for Roger, and as I said, when he is on his game he doesn't have many weaknesses. He also can return Roger's serve as well as Murray and Djokovic for some reason. Like many, I guess he just brings out his best against the GOAT.