Roger Federer is struggling with the basics of tennis and experiencing nerves for the first time, says Annabel Croft

ROGER FEDERER is experiencing the ‘yips’ for the first time – and is even struggling with the tennis basics.

That’s the opinion of tennis expert Annabel Croft, the former British No1 singles player, after watching the stroppy Swiss star crash out in his opening Nitto ATP Finals match.

 Roger Federer has the yips, says former British No 1 Annabel Croft

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Roger Federer has the yips, says former British No 1 Annabel Croft

Fuming Federer twice blasted the umpire as he lost 7-6 6-3 to Japan's Kei Nishikori – his first straight-sets defeat in a round-robin format.

The 37-year-old received a code violation for smashing a ball into the stands and uncharacteristically made 34 unforced errors.

Croft, 52, has watched Federer throughout his career and reckons something is definitely wrong with the World No3.

Sky Sports presenter Croft said: “I feel lurking beneath the surface are these nerves and jitters.

 Croft believes the Swiss maestro is being affected by nerves

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Croft believes the Swiss maestro is being affected by nerves

“In an interview he said he wanted to feel a little bit nervous because you want that adrenaline going.

“Ultimately what he is almost saying is that when he goes out there is a little bit of the yips coming into play. We are not used to seeing it. And he is not free-flowing.

“At the moment, you feel he is stuttering and thinking about so much, even in the basic groundstrokes.”

Federer faces world No8 Dominic Thiem on Tuesday at the O2 Arena in his second group clash.

 Federer lost to Kei Nishikori on Sunday

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Federer lost to Kei Nishikori on Sunday

The Austrian, 25, has won two of his past three encounters with Federer and should he continue that winning streak, the 20-time major champion would struggle to reach the semi-finals of the season-ending tournament for the first time in TEN YEARS.

Surprisingly Federer cancelled his 90-minute practice session at Queens’ tennis club today without any explanation.

ATP officials claim this was nothing out of the ordinary and it did not imply necessarily he was carrying any physical injury or knock.

Federer also came under attack from Julien Benneteau, the respected doubles player, who was part of France’s 2017 Davis Cup-winning team.

Roger Federer gets upset after losing to Kei Nishikori at the Australian Open 2017

Benneteau accused Federer of receiving preferential treatment at the Grand Slams in terms of timings and better courts.

He also reckons there is a conflict of interest following his creation of the Laver Cup and involvement of top tennis officials.

Benneteau said: “It is normal that he should have privileges but there has been a slight excess. Now we will have to be aware that things will change when he retires.”

ROGER FEDERER is experiencing the ‘yips’ for the first time – and is even struggling with the tennis basics.