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.

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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.

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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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