When 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz was asked if he would be nervous to play childhood idol Roger Federer on Centre Court, with a maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance on the line, his answer was a smile and a simple, “No.” The fast-rising Pole showed why on Wednesday, as he stunned the eight-time champion 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-0 to reach the final four at Wimbledon.
“Obviously I was a little bit nervous,” he conceded after the match. “I mean, playing against Roger in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, it’s a very big thing for me. But I was trying to stay as calm as I could.
“I was trying always to believe myself during the match and just trust my game and stay as aggressive as I could.”
Why Rain Delay ‘Might Actually Help’ Hurkacz In Federer Clash
Hurkacz has exceeded expectations throughout the fortnight, after arriving at the All England Club with a six-match losing streak dating back to Monte-Carlo in April, having never been past the third round or defeated a Top 10 player at a Grand Slam.
After taking down World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round and upsetting eight-time champion Federer, Hurkacz became the second Polish man in history to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam. He follows in the footsteps of Jerzy Janowicz, who reached this stage here in 2013.
“Walking off the court realizing that I won against Roger, I mean, [it] just kind of dream come true, especially here on grass in Wimbledon,” he said. “It felt so special with the crowd around as well.”
Although he typically strikes his groundstrokes with his eyes closed, the Miami champion showed great anticipation throughout three sets against Federer, who was contesting his 58th Grand Slam quarter-final. He did well to handle the windy conditions on Centre Court, keeping his margins and only striking 12 unforced errors across three sets.
Federer struggled from the start as Hurkacz read his second serve like a book. Despite saving three break points to hold for 2-2 – coming back from a 0/40 deficit – Federer couldn’t hold him back in the next service game as Hurkacz struck a flurry of backhand winners to go up 4-2.
The sixth seed raised his level to reel off the first three games of the second set, mixing up his returns – including a bold drop shot return at 4-1. But Hurkacz was unfazed, and he continued to move the Swiss player around the court, dragging him out wide and blasting backhands up the line with great success.
And they say to never meet your heroes…@HubertHurkacz knocks out his idol, eight-time champion Roger Federer, in straight sets to advance to his first Grand Slam semi-final#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/Qri1uriPDF
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 7, 2021
After getting them back on serve, Hurkacz fired a stinging cross-court passing shot in the tie-break and crushed an unreturned first serve to take the set. The Pole, who struck 10 aces in the match, won 79 per cent (41/52) of points behind his first serve.
Hurkacz could do seemingly no wrong in the third set, where he made only two unforced errors and dominated proceedings as he reeled off all six games in a row. He raced through the set and sealed the victory after an hour and 49 minutes as Federer pushed a forehand out wide, his 31st unforced error of the match.
He will next face seventh seed Matteo Berrettini for a spot in his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. Berrettini, who is into his second major semi-final, took down 16th seed and good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 to record his best result at the All England Club.