Wednesday will bring us a mouthwatering clash in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, as Hubert Hurkacz will attempt to deny Roger Federer a shot at a 9th title at SW19.
Federer has been shaky since his return this year. There have been a few bright spots, but Roger has been mostly rusty before Wimbledon (including a loss to Auger-Aliassime at his beloved Halle). It wasn’t looking too good for Federer at Wimby either, as he was down one set to two against Mannarino in the first round (leading in the 4th), before the Frenchman went down with an injury. That match however seems to have been what Federer needed. He improved consistently in his next outings, defeating Gasquet, Norrie and Sonego, losing just one set (to Norrie).
Hurkacz had an up and down year, winning two titles, including the Masters Event in Miami, his biggest career result thus far. But excluding Miami and his Delray Beach title in January, Hurkacz was pretty much useless, barely winning a handful of matches. His run at Wimbledon came out of nowhere, as he entered the tournament on the back of a horrible six match losing streak. Hurkacz got past Musetti, Giron, Bublik and Medvedev, managing to turn the match against Medvedev around from 1-2 down.
Federer won the only meeting back in 2019 at Indian Wells, 6-4 6-4. This should be a favorable matchup for Roger, who is THE expert at dealing with big servers, particularly on this surface.
Hurkacz has played very well at Wimbledon – there’s no doubt. And it was completely unexpected given his horrible pre-tournament form, and also the fact that he hasn’t played that much grass court tennis in his career (though his style is well suited for it).
But will his current form be enough to overcome Federer’s expertise at Wimbledon and also what is likely to be a bad matchup for the Pole?
I have been impressed with how Federer upped his level as this tournament went on, and he played his best match of the year against Sonego (a very dangerous opponent) in the 4th round. I think it’s fair to expect Roger to go up yet another level in the quarterfinals. Even if he doesn’t, the level showed against Sonego should be enough for Hurkacz too.
I think Roger at 39 should still not be underestimated, and I am backing him against an opponent who never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, and doesn’t have a ton of experience on grass. Playing against Roger on Center Court will be a huge challenge for Hurkacz. But most of all I think Hurkacz does not have the style to beat Roger, who can and will read his serve, putting blocked and sliced returns in play, as he has done all his career against big servers.
The Pole will also have to deal with not having a day of rest, as his match against Medvedev went on for two days (arguably why Hurkacz won), but all in all he’s a decade and a half younger than Federer, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
I`m taking Federer to win with a 1,5 set handicap. I don’t think it will go five, and if it does go 5, then I probably wouldn’t be so sure about Roger winning anyway. Prediction: Roger Federer – Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 7-6 7-5.