Wimbledon 2021: Hubert Hurkacz beats Roger Federer in straight sets to reach semi-finals
World No 18 Hubert Hurkacz records 6-3 7-6 6-0 victory to join Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals; Pole will play Matteo Berrettini in the last four after the Italian defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 08/07/21 6:07am
An inspired Hubert Hurkacz produced a spectacular performance to end Roger Federer's quest for a ninth Wimbledon title and landmark 21st Grand Slam crown with a straight-sets victory on Centre Court.
In front of a sell-out crowd on the storied arena Federer has presided over since his first title in 2003, Hurkacz excelled, firing down 36 winners and making just 12 unforced errors in a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 victory - the biggest triumph of his young career.
The denouement on Federer's defeat came in a barely-believable final set as he was broken three times to lose a set to love at Wimbledon for the first time in 22 visits as he crashed out in just one hour and 48 minutes.
World No 18 Hurkacz will face Matteo Berrettini after the Italian saw off 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3, while Federer can only look on as Novak Djokovic now stands just two wins away from joining him and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles after his routine win over Martin Fucsovics earlier in the day.
An error-strewn Federer performance, which led to him being beaten in straight sets at the All England Club for the first time since 2002 against Mario Ancic, saw him broken 10 times in total and will cast doubt about his future with his 40th birthday looming large next month.
But for Hurkacz, playing in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in his career against Federer's 53rd and 18th at Wimbledon alone, the title dream remains alive after dismantling his illustrious opponent and childhood idol.
"It's super special for me. Playing on this special court against Roger, when you're kid it's a dream come true to play him.
"Playing here in front of you guys and the special things he has done here throughout his whole career, it's a dream come true and I really thank you guys so much for coming here and cheering.
"I'm so happy and can't wait for the next one."
Hubert Hurkacz after victory over Roger Federer
Federer has more Grand Slam titles than Hurkacz has Grand Slam appearances, but the 24-year-old Pole, playing in his first major quarter-final, was undaunted by the legend stood on the opposite side of the court as he produced a fearless display to run out a comfortable winner.
In his post-match press conference, Federer refused to be rushed into a decision on his future - with his first port of call likely to be whether he chases a first Olympic gold medal in the singles.
"My goal was always for the last year and more to always try to play another Wimbledon, I was able to make it this year, which I'm really happy about," he said.
"With everything that comes after Wimbledon, we were always going to sit down and talk about it because clearly now Wimbledon is over. I've got to take a few days.
"Obviously we're going to speak a little bit tonight, depending on how I feel, then the next couple of days as well. Then we go from there.
"I'm actually very happy I made it as far as I did here and I actually was able to play Wimbledon at the level that I did after everything I went through. Of course I would like to play it again, but at my age you're just never sure what's around the corner."
Wimbledon 2021: Men's Semi-Finals
|Novak Djokovic (1) vs Denis Shapovalov (10)|
|Matteo Berrettini (7) vs Hubert Hurkacz (14)|
The unheralded Hurkacz, who caused a minor sensation when rallying from two sets to one down to beat world No 2 Daniil Medvedev in a last-16 match that extended into women's quarter-final day on Tuesday, had little trouble settling into the contest.
It was the Pole with the first window of opportunity, and the first sign of a struggling Federer, as a double fault and two unforced errors saw Hurkacz handed three break points. Five straight points from the older man got Federer back on track, but he was to play catch-up throughout the match.
Hurkacz had not gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam until this week, but he was rock solid on his own serve while Federer struggled and it was no surprise when Hurkacz pounced to put away a volley for a 4-2 lead in the opening set.
The pair exchanged the next two games to give Hurkacz the chance to serve for the first set and a brilliant forehand winner - coupled with a pair of huge first serves - gave him the first set in under half an hour.
Responding to the challenge as he has done throughout his career - and battling a gusty wind - Federer took a 3-0 lead in the second set, consolidating a break that was handed to him by Hurkacz's double fault with an arduous hold which had given the Pole a couple of chances to hit straight back.
With every serve and volley, every chip and charge, Federer looked like he might be gaining the ascendency but errors continued to undermine the Swiss' good work and Hurkacz worked his way back into the set when his legendary opponent handed him a break back.
With Hurkacz's serve nigh on impregnable - he had lost serve just three times in four matches coming into the quarter-finals - a tie-break was inevitable and Hurkacz served notice of his intent with a blistering forehand winner.
After an exchange of mini-breaks left Hurkacz with the advantage, he cemented that when Federer slipped when faced with a simple volley for 3-3. Instead, with a 4-2 lead, Hurkacz closed out the set with the minimum of fuss and raced into the distance.
On 10 previous occasions in his career, Federer had come from two sets down, most recently on the hallowed Wimbledon turf. His victory over Marin Cilic in the quarter-final in 2016 was followed by a semi-final defeat, but there was to be no repeat.
An inspired Hurkacz was in no mood to let up and, having quelled a Federer response, fashioned chances for an early break of serve in the third set. Federer saved the first, but moving freely the Pole was creating opportunities at will and claimed a 2-0 lead when the eight-time champion dumped a forehand into the net.
Hurkacz took his run of successive games to three, four and then five when a fearsome forehand left him one game away from a spectacular victory.
The life sucked out of his challenge, Federer had no answer to his opponent. At 39, with one Grand Slam title in the last three years, there may not be too many more moments on the big stage.
As he took to the playing surface he was afforded a standing ovation by an adoring crowd, but there was no dramatic comeback, just a third successive break of serve and a statement victory for Hurkacz - whose Masters title in Miami has been his biggest victory to date.
Federer had played in just two of the previous five Grand Slam tournaments as knee and back injuries have taken their toll and while questions will come on his future, the reality of an inspired opponent playing inspired tennis proved too good on the day.