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For a period of time, Polish tennis fans grew accustomed to watching their own as members of Wimbledon’s Final 8 club. There was Agnieszka Radwanska, who, following a pair of quarterfinal runs in 2008 and 2009, reached three semifinals between 2012 and 2015. A year later, Jerzy Janowicz beat compatriot Lukasz Kubot in the quarters, and won the opening set over eventual champion Andy Murray in the semifinals. In 2017, on the doubles court, Kubot triumphed with Marcelo Melo, 13-11, in a gripping decisive set.

Hubert Hurkacz had shown plenty of signs that he’d one day join in on the fun. Notably, there was 2019 at the All England Club, when he went down to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a gritty four-set battle in the third round. When he went a step further last week in reaching the round of 16—without dropping serve no less—one had to wonder if there was a deeper run inside the 24-year-old. For the only two times Hurkacz had strung together three victories this season, in Delray Beach and Miami, he went on to win titles.

On Tuesday, he rallied to defeat world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in five sets, completing their postponed fourth-round match with poise and a present mind. And just over 24 hours later, Hurkacz posted the win of his career, denying eight-time champion Roger Federer a shot at a 21st Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 victory.

MATCH POINT:

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"I don't know what to say," said Hurkacz on court. "It's super special for me. When you're a kid, it's a dream come true to play him."

Before the two began, Federer won the toss and elected to receive. Unusual given his forte at getting out in front early and wealth of experience playing on this court, perhaps it was his way of gauging his opponent’s nerves. Hurkacz opened with a double fault and unforced error in two of his first three points, but held serve after being pushed to deuce. Sure, there were moments of tightness that came and went, but nothing to suggest that he would be overwhelmed by the occasion.

Throughout the tournament, Hurkacz has been effective when rushing the net. It was a strategy he employed more than any other player heading into the quarterfinals, winning 75 percent of the time in his 179 trips to the net. His dexterity shone through against Federer in the sixth game when he played an unusual forehand slice approach deep down the middle, a ploy that set up a backhand volley winner to secure the first and only break of the opening set.

With the crowd urging him on, Federer broke for 2-0 in the second set when Hurkacz double-faulted. When he saved three break points to consolidate, there was promise that the 39-year-old would turn this match into a best-of-three situation. Hurkacz however, continued to find his range on return and eventually got back on serve at 3-4.

In the eventual tiebreak, the air was let out when Federer made a pair of stunning unforced errors in closing positions. At 2-2, a routine serve-plus-one went amiss when he overswung a drive volley to find the net. At 2-3, the Swiss had the entire court open, but his backfoot slipped and caused him to frame the shot:

How might the second-set tiebreaker have played out had things gone differently for Federer at 2-3?

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While Federer earned the mini break back on the next point, Hurkacz kept plugging away to stay in front, and closed with authority to open a two-set lead.

Federer had windows of opportunity to avoid his opponent running away with the match. A Love-30 opening on return and two game points on serve went to waste. Hurkacz stormed ahead with precise hitting and in turn, became the first player to ever hand Federer a bagel at Wimbledon.

“it was tough. The last few games obviously, as you can feel that you're not coming back from it,” Federer told press. “I'm not used to that kind of situation very much, especially not here.”

The final stat sheet was all Hurkacz: 36 winners, 12 unforced errors and 45 percent of return points won.

“Here, after winning couple of matches, I really gained confidence, gained momentum,” said Hurkacz, who entered the grass-court major on a 1-6 stretch following his Miami title run. “I was trying always to believe myself during the match and just trust my game and stay as aggressive as I could. That what I was trying to focus on throughout the match.”

Hurkacz is the first player to win a 6-0 set over Federer at Wimbledon.

Hurkacz is the first player to win a 6-0 set over Federer at Wimbledon.

With Iga Swiatek breaking through to become Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion at Roland Garros last October, can Hurkacz bring back a second piece of major hardware to his country in less than a year? Five-time champion Djokovic is still the undisputed favorite to walk away with a record-tying 20th men’s major trophy—but at a minimum, Hurkacz’s chances of playing on championship Sunday is a strong possibility. Set to face seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 winner over No. 16 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, the bottom half of the draw will send through a first-time Grand Slam finalist.

As for Federer, questions are flooding left and right about his future. Will he come back to SW19 next year? Or will he ask himself the same question Andy Murray posed a few rounds early, “is it worth it?”

“For me, now that that's over, you just got to reassess everything. You got to sit down, talk about it, what went well, what didn't go so well, where is the body, where is the knee, where is the mind,” explained Federer. “As you can see, it was a struggle for me and putting in extra effort all the time, especially when things get difficult against Felix in Halle or today against Hurkacz. I knew it was going to be really hard, to be honest. Now I just got to talk to the team, take my time, not feel rushed by you guys or anybody else, for that matter.”

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“Clearly there's still a lot of things missing in my game that maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago were very simple and very normal for me to do. Nowadays, they don't happen naturally anymore. I got to always put in the extra effort mentally to remind myself, Remember to do this or do that.”

If the boisterous sendoff Federer received on the court he's made his own for two decades has a say, his heart would all but answer yes. But, there's always the argument of the head, one that will be evaluating the big picture that lies ahead.