Roger Federer was thrashed in straight sets by Hubert Hukarcz in the quarterfinal and there is fear that this could be the last time he steps out on centre court.
When was the last time Roger Federer lost 6-0 in a set? You have got to be kidding, right! Federer, losing 6-0 in a set! That too at Wimbledon! Impossible. THE Roger Federer. The one who has won 20 Grand Slam titles. The maestro, who made Wimbledon his own with eight titles, cannot be the victim of a 6-0 thrashing. But, on Wednesday, the unthinkable happened. Federer lost one set 6-0. He was thrashed in straight sets 3-6,6-7,0-6 by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
In his 119th match in Wimbledon, Federer lost a set 0-6 for the first time in Wimbledon. The amazing statistical symmetry. Along with 20 Grand Slam titles for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both now have 105 wins on their favorite surfaces. Nadal has 105 in Roland Garros, Federer 105 in Wimbledon. This was the first time in 2002 that Federer lost in straight sets in Wimbledon. Can you remember who was the guy? It was Mario Ancic, who beat him 3-6,6-7,3-6.
In fact, in his entire playing history, Federer lost 0-6 in a set for only the second time. It was in 1999 that he lost 0-6 to Byron Black. In his whole career, Federer has been bageled in a set only twice before Hurkacz, one to Pat Rafter and the other to Nadal. Both were at Roland Garros.
Nothing seemed right for Federer in the match. After losing the first set 3-6, Federer was leading 4-1 but he blew the lead. The unforced errors alarmingly rose. The errors reached a crescendo in the tie-breaker. Normally, Federer’s game has tended to crumble if the backhand starts to give way. The backhand, in the later years, proved to be a slight Achilles heel for Federer. But, his game falls apart if his forehand also starts giving way.
The tie-break saw the worst of Federer’s game. His forehand completely collapsed and the unforced errors at crucial times saw him under tremendous pressure. The ultimate embarrassment came when he slipped and missed a smash. That seemed it. Federer was shot to pieces at that moment. The way he lost the tie-breaker proved to be grave.
In the post-match press conference, Federer admitted probably for the first time that age has caught up with him. “I am not used to being in this kind of a situation. My goal was to play Wimbledon. I am not so sure. At my age, you are not sure what is round the corner,” Federer said.
Federer is going to turn 40. There is a possibility that he might not play any more tennis this year. Having undergone two knee surgeries, fitness is not on Federer’s side. The quest for winning any other Grand Slam seems to be difficult. The aim to become the first man to win all four Grand Slams twice has been thwarted with Novak Djokovic winning the French Open for the second time in 2021.
Now, with Djokovic in prime form, the statistical symmetry might now be complete. A win for Djokovic in Wimbledon 2021 will put him level on 20 Grand Slams with both Federer and Nadal. Although Nadal might play for one more year, the chances of Federer having another Grand Slam title seem remote.
The love that Federer got when he lost summed up the value of his greatness. But, if it is the last time that Federer has played in Wimbledon, then it is a sad way to go. Exactly 20 years ago, the generation torch changed when Federer defeated Pete Sampras and ended his dominance on Centre Court. The wheels of Karma have ensured that Federer is now on the receiving end. In a couple of days, he might make an announcement. If it is retirement, then it will be a sad day for a lot of fans. If he plays on, the feelings might be mixed.