London, Jul 7 (EFE).- The two most successful male players this century at Wimbledon had very different experiences Wednesday in quarterfinal action on Centre Court.
While Serbian five-time champion Novak Djokovic continued to romp through the draw with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, Roger Federer – winner of a record eight titles at tennis’ grass-court major – lost another battle against Father Time in a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 defeat at the hands of red-hot Polish player Hubert Hurkacz.
The top-ranked Djokovic seemed set for his toughest match of the tournament against Fucsovics, who had taken out two of the 10 highest seeds in his previous two matches: Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Russia’s Andrey Rublev.
Instead, the Serbian quickly erased any thoughts of an upset by claiming the first five games of the contest, losing only seven points in the process.
Fucsovics bounced back and enjoyed his best stretch of the match from 0-5 down, winning seven of 11 games to take a 4-3 lead in the second set, but Djokovic shifted into a higher gear to clinch that set and grab an early lead in the third set.
He then booked a berth in the Wimbledon semifinals for the 10th time with one last routine service hold.
“It was a solid performance and I started off really well, particularly in the first five games of the (opening) set,” the 34-year-old Djokovic said after notching the 100th grass-court victory of his illustrious career. “One break of serve in the second and third sets was enough today, and I’d like to give credit to Marton for fighting so hard.”
The Serbian, holder of 19 major titles, one short of the record held by Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal, will square off in the semifinals against world No. 12 Denis Shapovalov. The 22-year-old Canadian rising star secured his first Grand Slam semifinal berth with a come-from-behind 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory Wednesday over 29th-ranked Russian Karen Khachanov.
Shapovalov got stronger as the No. 1 Court match wore on while Khachanov appeared to be feeling the effects of his second five-set match in three days, finally dropping serve in the ninth game of the final set after having staved off six break points earlier in the decider.
Federer looked to be rounding into form at his favorite tournament and seemed to have caught a break when Russian world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev was upset in the fourth round by the 18th-ranked Hurkacz.
But the Pole proved to be a more than formidable rival in their Wednesday quarterfinal match played in windy conditions on Centre Court, grabbing the first set on the strength of a service break in the sixth game and then rallying from a second-set deficit to force a tiebreaker.
One of the most crucial points of the match came at that juncture, when Federer slipped on the grass and lost his balance just a split-second before what would have been a easy volley put-away.
That mishap caused the Swiss great to fall behind a mini-break at 4-2 and he ended up losing the tiebreaker a few points later when Hurkacz blasted an unreturnable serve, his main weapon throughout the contest.
The 39-year-old Federer needed to get off to a quick start in the third set but instead dropped serve to fall behind 2-0 when he netted a forehand on break point, one of his 31 unforced errors in the match.
The match quickly got away from the Swiss 20-time Grand Slam champion, who failed to win a game in a set for the first time ever at Wimbledon and only the second time this century.
The only other player to pull off that feat was Nadal in the 2008 French Open final.
“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,” Federer, who underwent two arthroscopic right-knee surgeries last year, said after losing in straight sets at Wimbledon for the first time since 2002, prior to winning his first Grand Slam title. “Of course, I would like to play it again (next year), but at my age you’re just never sure what’s around the corner.”
Hurkacz’s first-ever Grand Slam semifinal match will be against Italian world No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, who topped Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 Wednesday on the No. 1 Court to become the first men’s singles player from his country to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since 1960. EFE