Wimbledon 2021: Roger Federer defeated in straight sets for 1st time in 19 years

·9-min read

For the first time in 19 years, Roger Federer has lost at Wimbledon in straight sets. He fell to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-7, 0-6. If Hurkacz, the No. 6 seed, was tired from finishing his upset of No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday, he didn't show it. But it also helped that Federer didn't look quite like himself.

The match didn't get off to a bad start for Federer. He and Hurkacz traded games for a bit, but even when Hurkacz won the set, it seemed like Federer could comeback. He's one of Wimbledon's most beloved and successful players, and it felt impossible that he wouldn't — or couldn't — make a comeback.

Switzerland's Roger Federer waits to receive a serve from Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during their men's quarter-finals match on the ninth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 7, 2021. - - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Roger Federer was defeated in straight sets at Wimbledon for the first time in 19 years. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

He got closest in the second set. He jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but couldn't stop Hurkacz from evening it up. Federer managed to get ahead two more times in the set, but Hurkacz bounced back every time. They went to a tiebreak, but that's where Federer started to droop. He made several uncharacteristic errors, and once he lost the tiebreak he never recovered. Even with the crowd trying as hard as they could to urge him forward, he looked more and more dejected as Hurkacz won game after game in the third set. He couldn't manage to win a single game, and lost the set 0-6 for the very first time.

Now Hurkacz, a giant-killer after beating both the No. 2 and No. 6 seeds, is headed to his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal. He'd lost six straight matches coming into Wimbledon — before his Round 1 win, he hadn't won a match since April. Now he's got the biggest win of his career, which happened to be against his tennis idol.

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Federer's loss brings up the important question, one he couldn't avoid during his post-match presser: With his 40th birthday coming up in just one month, was this his last Wimbledon? 

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To everyone's relief, Federer didn't announce his immediate retirement — but did say he doesn't know what the future holds. He's going to take a few days to think about it and talk with his family and his team. He clearly wants to keep playing, but he acknowledged that anything could happen between now and the next Wimbledon. 

Matteo Berrettini advances, defeats Felix Auger-Aliassime

The infusion of new talent at Wimbledon is noticeable. After years of being dominated by the Big 3, we're seeing more upstarts make their way into the final rounds. Italy's Matteo Berrettini and Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime are two of those young players, and they put on a show Wednesday as they battled for a spot in the semifinals. In the end, Berrettini outlasted Auger-Aliassime, and will advance to the semis after a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win. 

Berrettini's serve helped carry him through. It was enormous, and continued getting bigger and more emphatic with every set. By the end of the match, Auger-Aliassime simply couldn't handle it. He got aced four straight times in one game. 

Despite that ace spree at the end, both Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime played great tennis. But at 25, Berrettini's experience gave him help that 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime simply didn't have. Berrettini stayed calm and confident throughout, while Auger-Aliassime had moments of panic that led him to make some ill-advised mistakes. He was close to taking a 2-1 lead in the third set, but several mistakes cost him a game and eventually the set. 

Auger-Aliassime had a bit of a comeback in the final set, but even that was more Berrettini's fault. He hit several shots directly into the net that handed several games to Auger-Aliassime. But when he was back on serve, Berrettini was simply unstoppable — mostly. Serving for the win, he thought he'd aced Auger-Aliassime again and dropped his racket to celebrate what he thought was his victory. Except the ball landed outside the line and Berrettini had to do it again. 

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Everyone had a laugh, and Berrettini won on his very next serve, which was an actual ace. 

It was a fairly lighthearted match, especially compared to the desperation and disappointment that filled the air during Federer's loss on Center Court. Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime are good friends — even their girlfriends are close — and you could see it when they met at the net at the end of the match. 

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Now Berrettini is headed to his second Grand Slam semifinal, and his first at Wimbledon. He's been on a roll this season, and he doesn't look like he's ready to slow down. He'll face Hurkacz on Friday, who will have to figure out how to deal with Berrettini's monster serve.

Djokovic overcomes Fucsovics

It was no surprise that No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics to reach the semifinals. Djokovic wins now feel inevitable, but the 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 score doesn't tell the whole story of the match. Fucsovics went from looking entirely overwhelmed to hanging in there with the best there is. 

When the match began, it looked like Djokovic was going to run away with it. He won the first five games in dominant fashion, but then Fucsovics found his feet. He won four straight points to put himself on the board, then won two more games before Djokovic was able to answer back and win the set. 

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Marton Fucsovics in the quarter-final men's single match on centre court on day nine of Wimbledon at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Wednesday July 7, 2021. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic wins now feel inevitable. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Bolstered by his performance to close out the first set, Fucsovics came out swinging in the second set. He looked much more sure of himself and started going toe-to-toe with Djokovic. Fucsovics won the first game, but when Djokovic pulled even, Fucsovics responded by putting up another win. Once they were tied 4-4, Djokovic started taking control and won the next game, getting his first lead of the set. The momentum shifted, and Fucsovics started doing what he’d been doing to start the match: playing nervous and beating himself with unforced errors. In a matter of minutes, Djokovic went from playing catch-up to winning the set. 

Down two sets, Fucsovics tried to find any possible advantage. Against most other opponents, he might’ve been able to. But against Djokovic, who has been on fire since the Australian Open in January, it’s close to impossible — especially when you’re playing him from behind. Fucsovics just couldn’t escape the constant errors on his forehand, which set him back almost every time he had a chance to get ahead. He showed some late life, but was really just prolonging the inevitable. 

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Denis Shapovalov outlasts Karen Khachanov in five-set thriller

Denis Shapovalov, a 22-year-old Canadian seeded No. 10, will need Thursday's off day after beating Russia's Karen Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in a roller coaster match that lasted almost three-and-a-half hours.

Shapovalov was unwavering in his approach throughout the match: be aggressive, take risks and look for winners. After winning the first set, he dropped the first four games of the second set. He could have taken a step back and reined in his approach, but he kept at it and took three games from Khachanov before yielding the set. The third set displayed how evenly matched both competitors were: they traded games until they were 5-5, and then Khachanov took the next two to narrowly take the set. 

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Down 2-1, Shapovalov had to win to stay alive, and he responded with an absolutely dominant set. Khachanov took the second game, but the rest of it was all Shapovalov, who was seeing his aggressive approach pay off. It could have gone either way in the fifth set, but Shapovalov's willingness to take risks gave him the edge and the overall win. 

Shapovalov is headed to his first Grand Slam semifinal, where he'll face 10-time Wimbledon semifinalist Djokovic. He knows that beating the world No. 1 will be a tall order, but he's choosing to remain optimistic. 

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