Thursday, July 8th, 2021
Bitter Wimbledon bankruptcy
Is it supposed to have been for Federer?
By Till Erdenberger
Tennis icon Roger Federer wants to achieve great things at Wimbledon, but the Swiss has to accept bitter clap. He clearly loses in the quarterfinals. The big question that worries the tennis world: is he coming back again?
No, they don’t want to let go of perhaps the greatest player Wimbledon has ever seen like that. Not forever, anyway. “One more year”, please “another year”, implored the tennis fans in the Center Court Roger Federer, which was filled to the brim. The Swiss heard the ovation, but he was withdrawn when he snuck from his beloved court after his worst bankruptcy. With bowed head, bitterly beaten and perplexed. It is not unlikely that the crashing quarter-final defeat against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz was the eight-time title holder’s last appearance in his “living room”.
Federer left the court like the great player, the gentleman he is: without staging and above all without stealing the show from the deserved winner, who was enjoying some of the greatest moments of his relatively young career. Federer waved briefly into the audience, then he was gone. Meanwhile, Hurkacz applauded even the badly beaten.
“I really do not know it”
“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” he said when asked about the possible final farewell to Wimbledon: “Of course I would like to play here again. But at my age you never know what will happen.” Federer is now 39 years old and will celebrate his 40th birthday in around a month. He had won 1251 matches on the tour before Wednesday afternoon, but this time it was not enough. On the contrary: it was a sad spectacle. The Swiss, whose apparent lightness and elegance has delighted tennis fans for more than two decades and who had made him one of the most successful players in the history of the sport, visibly suffered against the 24-year-old Poland. Federer has stood for the beautiful in tennis for decades.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner often hit the balls improperly, was often bad, an unfamiliar accumulation of minor mistakes cost him the tiebreak of the second set, he was never dominant – and the third set was simply a disaster: for the second time in this millennium and at Wimbledon for the first time ever, he lost a round without winning his own game. So in the end there was a 3: 6, 6: 7 (4: 7), 0: 6. Not against Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, the other heroes of an extraordinary tennis era, but against the number 14 seed Hurkacz. It would be a bad farewell to Wimbledon.
Federer only made his comeback a few weeks ago after two knee operations and a break of almost a year. After the cancellation of the Wimbledon edition last year, he was “devastated” – and ended his season prematurely. The almost 40-year-old always emphasized that the lawn tournament in London was always the big goal during his rehab. “I’m very happy that I was able to play this year,” but: “It’s over now and we have to sit down and see what was good and what was bad,” said a visibly dejected Federer afterwards: “How is the body doing how is the mind? ”
Of course, the defeat is “hard”. However, he ruled out an immediate resignation. He had to “collect himself now and take a few days for me. The goal is of course to keep playing.” Because of course he also knows “that I will soon be optimistic again, I know how to react in such situations.” In a few days he could “be in a good mood and be the same again”. But whether he can fight his way back to Wimbledon seems questionable. But the decisive factor will be the analysis: “Was it as good as I thought or worse?” He has “tried everything and I’m happy with what I had in this tournament.”
After a complicated start against the French Adrian Mannarino, Federer actually got better and better into the tournament. “I’m very satisfied,” said the oldest player to ever reach a Wimbledon quarter-finals after beating Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the last 16. “For me, I felt that I was able to maintain a very high level of play. Overall, I can be very happy with the way I played.” He had been able to prove a lot, he said after the end: “But now at the end I noticed again that something crucial was missing.” That could be the crux of the matter.
Michael Stich, the Wimbledon winner from 1991, speculated at Sky: It is only “to say his feeling: Will I come back to Wimbledon next year and maybe lose in the first round?” There are “no instructions” for deciding when to start the right moment, that is “a gut feeling”. It’s hard to imagine that eight-time champion Federer, possibly the best lawn player of all time, will only come to Wimbledon once to be able to wave to the audience one last time after an early bankruptcy.
It would be a nice story, after all
“Leaving the court and realizing that I won against Roger is a dream come true – especially here at Wimbledon,” enthused Hurkacz afterwards. If it were really the Pole who had ended the great Wimbledon career of the Swiss, it would at least be a nice farewell story: “Roger, what he does, the way he plays, the titles he has won – he has inspires so many people, “enthused Hurkacz before the match. “To be out there and play against him in the quarter-finals is really amazing.”
It was Federer who inspired Hurkacz – and with him a whole generation of young tennis players. In 2001 the Swiss had defeated his great idol Pete Sampras for the first time in an epic battle in the round of 16 at Wimbledon and thus finally broke his extraordinary dominance. Seven times in the previous eight years Sampras had won at Wimbledon, after Federer’s 7: 6 (9: 7), 5: 7, 6: 4, 6: 7 (2: 7), 7: 5 victory he only kicked once on Church Road and lost sensationally against the Swiss George Bastl.
Hurkacz took his first steps on the tennis court, Federer later became his idol. The Pole has long been a formidable player himself, now he is ranked 18th in the world and won his first Masters tournament in Miami in the spring. In a Grand Slam tournament, however, he had not yet made it past the third round. Now Hurkacz may finally initiate the twilight of the gods. Like Federer 2001. The people at Wimbledon and many, many fans around the world hope that things will turn out differently.