Roger Federer’s quest for ninth Wimbledon title ended in shock defeat by Hubert Hurkacz

·3-min read
Roger Federer’s quest for ninth Wimbledon title ended in shock defeat by Hubert Hurkacz

Roger Federer’s hopes of a miraculous ninth Wimbledon title are over.

And just a few weeks shy of his 40th birthday, it begs the question of whether he will ever be in a position to go for the title again.

In the preceding rounds, it looked as if Federer had timed his recovery from double knee surgery to perfection, just in time for his favourite tournament, but he was blown off court by Hubert Hurkacz, who produced the biggest win of his career against his childhood idol.

After his 6-3 7-6 6-0 victory, he said: “I don’t know what to say. It’s super special. It’s a dream come true - playing here in front of you guys.”

For all the Pole’s brilliance in their quarter-final, it was an off-day for Federer; his fluidity of movement was all wrong and his footing off kilter, the Swiss clearly bothered by the windy conditions.

As the match wore on, both his age and history were against him. At 39, he was bidding to become the oldest man to reach a Wimbledon semi-final, a record that Ken Rosewall holds at least for another year.

And historically, the last time he had successfully fought back from such a position was when two sets down to Marin Cilic at Wimbledon five years ago.

This time there was to be no great escape. The one comfort, at least for the English contingent in a crowd fervent for Federer as ever, was the ability to slip off in time to watch England’s Euros game against Denmark.

There was no doubt who the crowd wanted to win and yet there was still support inside Centre Court for Hurkacz’s brave and aggressive approach.

If he was daunted by the occasion or an opponent he had idiolised since childhood, it certainly didn’t show. His serve was on point and he mixed up his approaches to the net – a facet of his play throughout Wimbledon.

Federer in contrast, struggled with his groundstrokes and was facing three break points at 2-2. He saved all three but Hurkacz got the only break of the set in his next service game, and showed no signs of nerves as the moment came to serve out.

The question was always whether Hurkacz could maintain the momentum into the second set. The answer came in his opening service game, a double fault gifting Federer the easiest of routes back into the match. Within moments, Federer was 3-0 clear but his movement was still consistently off, the rhythm of his shots wrong and Hurkacz broke back.

In the tiebreak that followed, he had chances to move into the ascendancy but volleyed into the net and completely fluffed a latter volley when he tumbled on his approach to the net. Hurkacz, the coolest man inside Centre Court, then served out the set.

It left him requiring a comeback of gargantuan proportions and, when he was immediately broken at the start of the third set, it knocked the stuffing out of him and the crowd. If this is to be his Wimbledon swansong, only his second bagel of the 21st Century will be a sad way to depart SW19.

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