Britain Wimbledon Tennis
Switzerland’s Roger Federer leaves the court after being defeated by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz during the men’s singles quarterfinals match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Roger Federer has been feted by plenty of ovations at Centre Court. None quite like this one, though. This was not a celebration. It felt more like a “Thank you” or — just in case — a “Goodbye.”
The eight-time Wimbledon champion lost 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 to 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the quarterfinals at the All England Club on Wednesday, a surprisingly lopsided finish to Federer’s 22nd appearance in the tournament.
Federer underwent two operations on his right knee in 2020 and was sidelined for more than 12 months in all. He arrived at Wimbledon having played a total of eight matches this season.
Factor in age — Federer turns 40 on Aug. 8, so this was his last major in his 30s — and maybe it was just too much to ask that he make his way to the closing weekend, even if this is a tournament he’s won more than any other man, and even if it’s contested on a surface, grass, on which he’s best.
He simply never was able to summon the serving and shot-making that have carried him to 20 Grand Slam titles overall, tied with Rafael Nadal for the men’s record.
Hurkacz, a 24-year-old from Poland, never had made it beyond the third round at any major; that’s when he lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon two years ago.
Still, Hurkacz looked quite comfortable on this unfamiliar stage. He played sublimely, with three times as many winners, 36, as unforced errors, 12.
In the opening set, he didn’t face so much as a single break point and was guilty of just four unforced errors to Federer’s 10.
It appeared Federer finally was beginning to make some headway early in the second set, earning a trio of break points and nosing ahead 2-0 on a double-fault. After his second serve found the net, Hurkacz pointed an index finger at his temple, then shook his head.
Federer then weathered three break points in the next game to lead 3-0.
But Hurkacz conceded nothing. Undaunted by the setting, the stakes, the foe or the almost-uniformly-for-Federer fans, Hurkacz claimed four of the next fives game to pull even at 4-all, breaking along the way with a stinging forehand return of a 101 mph serve that rushed Federer and drew a backhand into the net.
In the tiebreaker — which was preceded by loud chants from the full-to-capacity stands of “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” and rhythmic clapping — it was more of the same: Hurkacz hitting his spots and Federer stumbling.
On one foray to the net, Federer lost his footing and, in the process of catching his balance, missed what could have been a simple volley.
The third set went by in a blink, and when it ended with Federer missing a forehand well wide, he quickly packed his bags and hustled off toward the locker room with a wave and a thumbs-up.
Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov also reached the semifinals with wins Wednesday.
If Djokovic beats Shapovalov and then goes on to claim a sixth Wimbledon title — and third in a row — on Sunday, that would allow the 34-year-old from Serbia to pull even with Federer and Nadal at 20 Slam trophies.