24 year old Hurkacz faces idol Federer in 1st Grand Slam quarterfinal

24 year old Hurkacz faces idol Federer in 1st Grand Slam quarterfinal
Poland's Hubert Huekacz plays a return during the men's singles fourth round match against Russia's Daniil Medvedev on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Hubert Hurkacz was 6 years old when Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon title.

On Wednesday, at the age of 24, Hurkacz will try to foil Federer’s latest attempt at winning a ninth.

As if playing in a first Grand Slam quarterfinal wasn’t special enough, Hurkacz will be on Centre Court going up against the player that he — and a generation of tennis players like him — grew up idolizing.

“Roger, what he does, the way he plays, the titles he has won — he has inspired so many people,” Hurkacz said. “Being out there playing quarterfinals against him, it’s really amazing.”

The Polish player earned that matchup by coming from behind to beat No. 2-seeded Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. That match resumed Tuesday under the roof on Centre Court after being suspended overnight in the fourth set because of rain; it had started at No. 2 Court, which does not have a retractable cover.

It was the only fourth-round match that wasn’t completed Monday, which means Hurkacz is the only man who won’t get a full day’s rest before the quarterfinals.

What he did get, though, was a chance to play on Centre Court for the first time. That may be even more important when it comes to preparing for the 39-year-old Federer — who has been a regular on that particular court for the last two decades.

“I think actually playing today might have helped me because I got used to the indoor conditions, the conditions on the big court, how the ball bounces there, all the crowd,” Hurkacz said.

That crowd, which was at full capacity for the first time this year after COVID-19 restrictions were eased, certainly appreciated his old-school style of attacking the net often against the big-hitting Medvedev. Hurkacz won 50 points at the net, including 10 when playing serve-and-volley.

That may not be enough to win over the crowd against Federer, the perennial fan favorite.

“I’ll be hoping to get a little bit of support,” Hurkacz said with a laugh.

Hurkacz has played Federer once before, losing in straight sets in the Indian Wells quarterfinals in 2019.

They’ll play after two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic faces Marton Fucsovics of Hungary on Centre Court.

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