Facing Greatness: Hubert Hurkacz's Experience Playing Vs. Roger Federer

Hubert Hurkacz defeated Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2021

by Jovica Ilic
Facing Greatness: Hubert Hurkacz's Experience Playing Vs. Roger Federer
© Pool / Pool - Getty Images Sport

Hubert Hurkacz played against his idol Roger Federer two times. The Pole described those encounters as a huge honor for him and wished the Swiss could have played for a few more years. Hubert could not even imagine that he would be Roger's last rival in a career, with a 20-time Major winner retiring following their 2021 Wimbledon encounter, struggling with an ongoing knee injury.

Federer and Hurkacz met for the first time in the 2019 Indian Wells semi-final. The veteran ousted the young gun 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 13 minutes, sailing into his 12th semi-final in the desert. Roger played well on serve and return, ousting Hubert in straight sets and remaining on the title course.

The Swiss dropped 16 points in his games and denied both break points, keeping the pressure on the Pole.

Hubert Hurkacz & Roger Federer, Wimbledon 2021© Pool / Pool - Getty Images Sport

Hubert gave his best but could not extend the battle, dropping almost 40% of the points in his games and suffering one break in each set, ending his campaign in the quarter-final.

Roger controlled his strokes nicely, hitting 24 winners and 18 unforced errors. Hubert delivered 16 direct points and 23 mistakes, losing ground in the shortest and more extended rallies. Federer produced five comfortable holds in the opener after dropping five points, securing one break that made the difference.

The Swiss fired four winners in the fourth game, holding at love and pushing strong on the return in the next one. Hurkacz hit a double fault and a couple of errors in the fifth game, playing a loose forehand and getting broken.

The veteran cemented the break with service winners in game six and fired an ace in game eight for 5-3. Hurkacz held at 15 in the ninth game to prolong the action before Federer clinched the tenth game after deuce for 6-4.

Roger extended the third game of the second set with a smash winner and welcomed Hubert's unforced error to secure a crucial break and move a set and a break in front. Federer denied a break point in game six and fired two winners for a hold and a 4-2 lead.

Hubert held after deuces in game seven, staying within one break deficit and having one last chance at 4-5. The Pole created a break point, and the Swiss saved it with a service winner. Federer seized the match point with a forehand winner, advancing into the semi-final.

Roger Federer, Wimbledon 2021© Pool / Pool - Getty Images Sport

Hubert Hurkacz recalled his duel against Roger Federer.

Roger and Hubert met for the second and last time in the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-final. Struggling with a knee injury and undergoing two surgeries, Federer came to London with four tournaments on his tally in the previous 17 months.

An eight-time champion stopped the clock at The All England Club, beating four rivals and becoming the oldest Wimbledon quarter-finalist in the Open era. However, Hurkacz proved too strong, toppling Federer 6-3, 7-6, 6-0 in an hour and 48 minutes.

Roger suffered his most brutal Wimbledon loss since 2002, losing ground after the second set and experiencing his first bagel at Majors since the 2008 Roland Garros final!

Hubert Hurkacz, Wimbledon 2021© Pool / Pool - Getty Images Sport

Federer squandered his chances in the second set, losing ground in the tie break and fading from the court in set number three.

Roger earned one break and got broken five times, three times in the third set. Hubert tamed his strokes nicely, landing 36 winners and 12 unforced errors. The Pole denied three out of four break points and created 15 opportunities on the return, seizing five.

Hurkacz had the upper hand in the shortest and more advanced rallies, leaving his idol behind and moving into his first Major semi-final in style. Hubert held after deuce in the first game of the encounter and created three break chances in the fourth game.

Roger denied them and remained on the positive side. However, the younger player pushed strong on the return again in the sixth game and landed a backhand volley winner at the net for a break and a 4-2 advantage. Hubert served for the set at 5-3 and fired a service winner for a hold at 15, wrapping up the opener in a swift 28 minutes.

Roger secured his only break in the second game of the second set after Hubert's double fault. The Swiss defended three break chances in the third game with forehand winners, moving 3-0 in front and hoping for more in the rest of the set.

Roger Federer & Hubert Hurkacz, Indian Wells 2019© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Hurkacz held after deuce in game four and landed an ace two games later for 2-4. Hubert pulled the break back in game seven after forcing Roger's backhand error and seized the tie break 7-4 with a service winner, forging two sets to love advantage.

With nothing working his way, Federer experienced his first bagel at Wimbledon in set number three, losing ground completely and propelling Hurkacz into the semi-final. The Swiss underwent his third knee surgery a couple of weeks later and retired from tennis at the next year's Cup.

"Roger has always been my idol. It was inspiring just watching him play, and then I got a chance to practice with him a couple of times. Playing against Roger and sharing the court with him was an amazing honor. I wished he continued to play for a lot longer," Hubert Hurkacz said.

Hubert Hurkacz Roger Federer Wimbledon