Advertising

Beware the tweener.

Not necessarily for the player on the opposite side of the net from the trick shot, even if it's led to some jaw-dropping winners in the past.

On Monday, the first day of Wimbledon, it was about the player who tried to execute it. When Alejandro Davidovich Fokina attempted the between-the-legs stroke, he did so with a seemingly comfortable lead over No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz, by two sets and 5-3, 40-0.

It was just one lost point, but the repercussions of squandering it seemed to follow the 23-year-old Spaniard all the way to this contest's rather shocking conclusion.

Davidovich Fokina, ranked 38th, is among the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw.

Davidovich Fokina, ranked 38th, is among the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw.

Advertising

When Davidovich Fokina defeated Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters in April, it was an announcement that this young baseliner had arrived on tour. But a win today over Hurkacz may have been just as noteworthy.

For one, Djokovic was playing his first match on clay of the season, and just his fourth of the year, period. Hurkacz, meanwhile, was a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year—he beat Roger Federer to reach the final four—and came into this year’s event a dark-horse title contender. Hurkacz had also just picked up his first grass-court trophy in Halle with a convincing final-round win over world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev.

When the Wimbledon draw came out, the floating Foki was hardly a name Hurkacz wanted to see.

Advertising

Davidovich Fokina appeared all but certain to reach the second round in the third set, with three match points in hand, but an ill-advised tweener try went down as a tumultuous turning point. He went on to drop the next two match points, and a double-fault at deuce didn’t help matters, either.

Davidovich Fokina had plenty of time to rue those missed opportunities as a rain delay (for the second time on Monday) forced him and Hurkacz off the court before the resumption of the third set.

"There was a lot of tension," said Davidovich Fokina in the post-match on-court interview. "I just keep playing my game."

Advertising

From there, Hurkacz won the next four games to get on the board, comfortably collected the fourth set 6-2, and took an early break-of-serve advantage in the fifth set. Then, serving at 5-4 with new balls, Hurkacz blinked.

It wasn't a tweener that altered Hurkacz's fate, but more relaxed play from Davidovich Fokina—who at this point had almost nothing left to lose—coupled with mounting pressure on the Pole to close it out.

"Let's put the return in and see what happens," Davidovich Fokina told himself at that juncture.

He did so, and he went on to break serve to earn some unexpected new life. But shortly after, in a first-to-10-point match tiebreaker, Davidovich Fokina again trailed, 7-5.

Advertising

Yet this outer-court mini-marathon had one more twist in store. Hurkacz dropped three straight points, the last two on nervy unforced errors, to give Davidovich Fokina a 9-7 lead. And while one more match point came and went, the Spaniard finally converted on the fifth, after an ugly Hurkacz third-ball miss into the net.

"Really, don’t know how I win this match," Davidovich Fokina said with a grin. "So much confidence to myself, I’m so happy."

The two had split their four prior clashes, with none coming on grass. As Steve Tignor noted in today’s previews, there’s something about ADF’s muscular baseline game that the 6’5”, lithe Hurkacz doesn’t like. But for all his gifts and skill, Davidovich Fokina had never won a match at main-draw match at Wimbledon.

He did, however, win a junior title at the All England Club in 2017. Which surely makes this maiden main-draw win—7-6 (4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6—all the more sweet.

"It means a lot," he said. "I had a lot matches against Top 10 [players] that I didn’t win. But with this win on grass, I can beat anyone."