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Preview: Federer v Hurkacz, Berrettini v Felix

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2021

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer has made a career of defying expectations and beating the odds. The 39-year-old has proven he still has what it takes after becoming the oldest Wimbledon quarter-finalist in the Open Era – now, he’ll have to draw from long experience to keep his run going on Wednesday. 

Federer anchors the bottom half of the draw at SW19, with seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz and 16th Felix Auger-Aliassime all in uncharted territory as they vie for their first Wimbledon semi-final berth.

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Sixth seed Federer, who is eyeing his 13th appearance in the last four, will be facing a player who idolised him as a child when he meets Hurkacz. The 24-year-old from Poland grew up practising gymnastics, basketball and football as well as tennis, but settled on tennis after watching the Swiss superstar.


“Obviously Roger is a special player. What he’s achieved throughout his whole career, it’s unbelievable. The way he plays is also special… He was big inspiration for me,” Hurkacz said after his fourth-round upset over Daniil Medvedev. “Being out there playing quarter-finals against him, it’s really amazing. But obviously I’m out there to play my best and give myself best chance of winning the match.”

It’s an increasingly familiar position for 39-year-old Federer, who is bidding to become the oldest man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Ken Rosewall at the 1977 Australian Open, aged 42. A few weeks ago in Halle, 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime named Federer his ‘idol’ before taking him down in a second-round upset.

The Canadian, who faces seventh seed Berrettini, looms in his section as a potential semi-final opponent. But Federer won’t be the same player who struggled to string wins together in the buildup to Wimbledon, his fifth tournament of the season as he continues to make his way back from knee surgeries.

Federer has raised his level round by round after dodging an early test from Adrian Mannarino, who retired in the fourth set in the first round. He has raced past Richard Gasquet and taken down 29th seed Cameron Norrie and 23rd seed Lorenzo Sonego to reach his first quarter-final since the 2020 Australian Open.

“It’s nice to see that the work I put in paid off, that I’m able to play at this level with best-of-five sets. Playing five days in a row is different than playing best-of-five sets every second day,” Federer said.

“All that stuff, when you’re young, you don’t ask yourself the question. But when you’re me, with the year I had, it’s all question marks all over the place. You have to prove it again to yourself that you can actually do it.” 

The winner of Federer and Hurkacz will take on an in-form player in either seventh seed Berrettini or 16th seed Auger-Aliassime, who will have to put their friendship aside in order to reach their first Wimbledon semi-final. 

Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime, whose girlfriends Ajla Tomljanovic and Nina are cousins, are often spotted hanging out together off the tennis court. They’ve had dinner together and watched the Euros while in the bubble this fortnight, but when they hit the court it will be all business. 

“We’re able to make the difference between what happens on the court and off the court,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Matteo is a good friend, first of all. I can chat with him, have dinner with him. Of course, when the day of the match comes, then you focus on what you have to do. You try to play your best tennis and win.”


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A post shared by Matteo Berrettini (@matberrettini)

Auger-Aliassime is one of two Canadians into the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, and he’s bidding to become the youngest man to reach the last four at Wimbledon since Djokovic (20 years 47 days) in 2007. After navigating past a tricky section that included Nick Kyrgios (retirement), the 16th seed recorded a statement win over fourth seed Alexander Zverev in five sets to advance to this stage at a Grand Slam for the first time. 

Berrettini will come into the matchup with the edge in experience, having been to the semi-finals at the US Open in 2019 (l. to Nadal), as well as the lead in their ATP Head2Head. The Italian claimed a hard-fought victory in their only previous meeting in the Stuttgart 2019 final, but he had to play “one of the best matches I ever played on grass” to achieve it. 

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“I feel I am playing for sure the best tennis of my career. [In] 2019 I was playing good, but everything was kind of new. I had to adjust a little bit,” Berrettini reflected after his fourth-round win over Ilya Ivashka. “Now I have more confidence for sure, more experience as well. I know I can achieve my best results like I’m doing quarters in Paris, quarters here. Obviously the tournament is not done yet. I’m really looking forward to achieving even more.”

Since their 2019 meeting, Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime have continued their upward trajectory. The seventh seed came into SW19 after winning titles at the Serbia Open and The Queen’s Club, his first ATP 500 triumph. Auger-Aliassime returned to the Stuttgart final this year, the eighth final of his career (0-8).

Potential Wimbledon Semi-final ATP Head2Heads (bottom half):
Federer trails Auger-Aliassime 0-1
Federer leads Berrettini 2-0

Hurkacz leads Berrettini 1-0
Hurkacz trails Auger-Aliassime 0-2

Did You Know?
Of the eight players to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals here, six are contesting their first Wimbledon quarter-finals – equalling the Open Era record for most first-time men’s singles quarter-finalists at Wimbledon (also 1991 and 2002).

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Preview: Djokovic v Fucsovics, Shapo v Khachanov

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2021

Entering the final stages of a Grand Slam in 2021, once again the biggest question is: Who can stop World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in his quest to rewrite the tennis record books? After conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros, Djokovic is eyeing a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title as he heads into the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The two-time defending champion, who will next face the unseeded Marton Fucsovics, leads a section of first-time Wimbledon quarter-finalists that includes Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov.

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It is easy to get caught up in the figures and statistics of the monumental feat Djokovic is attempting to achieve at the All England Club: after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros, he is half way to a calendar-year Grand Slam, something only Rod Laver (1969) has ever achieved in the Open Era. 


He could also be set for a record-breaking finish as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. And if he wins his third consecutive Wimbledon title, he’ll be only the fourth player to do so after Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. 

“You always enjoy obviously hearing those stats. It’s a privilege to break records in the sport that I truly love,” Djokovic said after his win over Cristian Garin, which put him into his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final. “I’m devoted to this sport as much as I think anybody out there on the tour. I just try to do my best. I am aware that there are many records on the line. They do inspire me to play my best tennis.”

Djokovic admitted earlier in the fortnight that this wasn’t always the case. He recalled the mental fatigue and a ‘deflated’ feeling that affected his previous race for the calendar-year Grand Slam in 2016, which ended in a third-round defeat at Wimbledon at the hands of Sam Querrey. But now, with the benefit of years of experience in breaking records and rewriting the tennis history books, a calmer and more-centered Djokovic is determined to block out the noise and focus on the task at hand. 

“If I start, you know, giving away my attention and energy to these speculations and discussions and debates, I feel like it’s going to derail me from what I feel is the priority at this moment for me: [to] take it step by step, day by day, stick to stuff that makes me feel good, that make me feel comfortable, confident, [and] that makes me prepare the best that I possibly can be prepared for the final stages of Grand Slams,” he said. “It’s not a secret that I am trying to win as many Slams as possible. I went for the historic [weeks at] No. 1 [record]. I managed to achieve that milestone.” 

By all accounts he is succeeding. Djokovic has dropped only one set in the tournament, in the first round against wild card Jack Draper. He has only lost his serve three times in the tournament: once against Draper and twice against American Denis Kudla. He comfortably cruised past 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson and 17th seed Garin to reach the last eight.


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Djokovic’s next hurdle will be Hungary’s Fucsovics, the only unseeded man through to the last eight. He leads Fucsovics 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head, with both of their meetings taking place on hard courts. 

Read More: The Ironman Of Tennis: Why Fucsovics Is The Sport’s Most Underrated Player

Fucsovics, currently No. 48 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, had to go about things the hard way to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon. He came back from a set down to overcome 19th seed Jannik Sinner in the first round 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3, and then halted a late comeback effort against Diego Schwartzman to see off the ninth seed in four sets. He earned a sweet-revenge win over Andrey Rublev, the fifth seed and a player who has haunted his draws in 2021, in five sets before booking a meeting with the World No. 1.

“Against Novak, against the top guys, you cannot tell the winning strategy,” Fucsovics said. “I will go out there and try to enjoy every moment, fight for every point. That will be most important… This is the first time I reach the quarter-finals in a Grand Slam. Hopefully I get to play on the Centre Court, and I want to enjoy every moment of it.”


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The winner will take on either 10th seed Shapovalov or 25th seed Khachanov, who are both into the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for the first time. But it’s been a long time coming for the two players who have been knocking on the door of a major breakthrough and equalled their best Grand Slam result this week. 

Shapovalov has thrived under pressure throughout the fortnight, pulling off one of his biggest wins to oust two-time champion Andy Murray under the lights on Centre Court in the third round. The 2020 US Open quarter-finalist has improved with every week of the grass-court swing, reaching the quarter-finals in Stuttgart (l. to Cilic) and semi-finals at The Queen’s Club (l. to Norrie) before arriving at SW19. 

“I think I’m just a different, different person, different player,” the 22-year-old said. “I knew it was going to be a process on this surface the next couple years to really develop my game on it. Obviously I had great success in the juniors. But it’s a different game in the pros.”


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A post shared by Karen Khachanov |Карен Хачанов (@karenkhachanov)

Khachanov, who reached this stage at Roland Garros in 2019, has flown under the radar during a historically strong showing for Russians at Wimbledon. But after Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev fell in the fourth round, only Khachanov has been left standing as the first player from his country to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final since Mikhail Youzhny in 2012.

The 25-year-old has maneuvered past three American opponents after defeating Mackenzie McDonald, Frances Tiafoe – who knocked out Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round – and taking down Sebastian Korda in a five-set rollercoaster. Shapovalov leads their ATP Head2Head 1-0, with the Canadian lefty claiming a victory in their 2019 Davis Cup tie against Russia. 

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“I know what to expect. I will try to get ready. It will be a different trajectory of the balls because he’s lefty,” Khachanov said. “Once you’re in quarter-finals, expectations go even higher. Obviously both of us will try to prepare well, and hopefully it will be a good match and the better player wins.”

Potential Wimbledon Semi-final ATP Head2Head Records (top half):
Djokovic leads Khachanov 4-1
Djokovic leads Shapovalov 6-0

Fucsovics ties Khachanov 1-1
Fucsovics leads Shapovalov 1-0

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Mektic/Pavic First Team To Qualify For 2021 Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2021

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have become the first doubles team to qualify for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 14-21 November at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

The Croatians booked their spots at the season finale on Tuesday with a 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4 quarter-final victory over Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot at The Championships, Wimbledon.

Mektic and Pavic have been red hot in 2021, in their first season as a team, winning seven titles and compiling a 46-5 match record.

They have lifted trophies this year at three ATP Masters 1000s — the Miami Open presented by Itau and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Evans/Skupski both times), plus the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (d. Ram/Salisbury). Mektic and Pavic also won one ATP 500 title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Krawietz/Tecau) and three at ATP 250 events — the Antalya Open (d. Dodig/Polasek), Murray River Open in Melbourne (d. Chardy/Martin), Viking International Eastbourne (d. Ram/Salisbury).

Mektic and Pavic also finished as runners up at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Granollers/Zeballos) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Cabal/Farah).

Individually, Mektic has competed at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2018 (w/Peya) and last year the 32-year-old clinched the trophy with Wesley Koolhof at The O2 in London (d. Melzer/Roger-Vasselin). Pavic, 28, has qualified on three previous occasions, featuring in the round-robin stages in 2017-18 (w/Marach) and 2020 (w/Soares).

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Hurkacz Completes Comeback To End Medvedev's Shot At No. 1

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2021

Hubert Hurkacz completed a comeback on Tuesday afternoon in a rain-interrupted clash against Daniil Medvedev for a place in the quarter-finals at The Championships, Wimbledon.

Resuming at 4-3 in the fourth set, after rain stopped play on Monday evening, the Polish 14th seed continued his ploy of attacking the net and reaped dividends in a 2-6, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over three hours and two minutes.

“Playing on this unbelievable court, probably the best in the world, with an amazing crowd is really special,” said Hurkacz, in an on-court interview. “Daniil is an unbelievable player. We battled so hard on No. 2 Court. So to win is incredible… I knew I needed to get off to a strong start today and I think I did a pretty good job.”

Having gone 1-6 coming into the grass-court major, following his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Sinner) on 4 April, Hurkacz has played his way into form at the All England Club. He is the fifth Polish man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals and will now aim to emulate Jerzy Janowicz, who advanced to the last four in 2013.

The 24-year-old will next challenge sixth-seeded Swiss and eight-time former champion Roger Federer on Wednesday. Federer beat Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 in their only previous meeting at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. “Roger, what he does, the titles he has won, is a real inspiration,” said Hurkacz. “I will be hoping to get a little bit of support tomorrow.”

Unable to join fellow Russian Karen Khachanov in the Wimbledon semi-finals, Medvedev is now 2-8 lifetime in fifth sets. The 25-year-old had had a shot at rising to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with a deep run at Wimbledon.

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The match had been suspended due to rain on No. 2 Court at 6:30pm local time Monday. It was switched to No. 1 Court, under a closed roof, due to further bad weather on Tuesday in London.

Hurkacz broke for a 5-3 lead in the fourth set after he struck a smash winner and later hit his eighth ace to wrap up the 40-minute set. While Medvedev had won 84 per cent of his first-service points, double faults started to break into his game.

At 1-1 in the decider, Hurkacz seized his opportunity once more when Medvedev scooped a forehand long. The 31-minute set ended when Medvedev hit a low forehand volley into the net.

“[I] played really bad today,” said Medvedev. “He definitely played really well. I played probably [my] worst two sets since Rome. I will just continue working… Today my best was really low, but I did my best.”

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