Wednesday may have marked the end of an era. The great Roger Federer hinted that his quarter-final defeat against Hubert Hurkacz may have been his final appearance at Wimbledon.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner bowed out at the All England Club after losing in straight sets, which included his first ever set loss to love in his SW19 career. And for the first time, he gave a hint that this could well be the last time we see the great Roger Federer at the Championships.
He said: “Of course I would like to play it again but at my age you never know what is around the corner. I will talk with my team and go from there, see what I need to do to get in better shape and be more competitive.”
It was clear to see the eight-time Wimbledon champion was gutted with his exit and how he performed as he put in a display that was alien from what we have seen from the Swiss great over the years in south-west London.
The 39-year-old added: “My goal for the last year was to play another Wimbledon. I was able to make it this year, which I was really happy about. Everything that comes after Wimbledon we will sit down and talk about it.
“I’m actually very happy to get as far as I did, even though I am disappointed I lost.”
This was only Federer’s fifth tournament in 17 months after needing two operations on a knee injury last year. There had been doubts over his shape coming into the Grand Slam he loves the most, having suffered a humbling defeat at Halle last month which left him uncharacteristically dispirited. It blew up in Federer’s clash with Hurkacz as he lacked the confidence and the assurance that he normally has bursting out of him in SW19. He looked exhausted and in pain, physically and mentally.
With Federer turning 40 next month it seems that Father Time has eventually caught up with him and there were glimpses of this in the earlier rounds of the Championships. The Swiss narrowly avoided a huge upset in the first round when injury robbed French star Adrian Mannarino the chance of a momentous win. A ponderous Federer had his timings all wrong and he trailed two sets to one before Mannarino was forced to retire.
He did improve in the rounds that followed before Hurkacz, which included his win over Britain’s Cameron Norrie, but he lost his rhythm against the Polish star and Hurkacz’s clinical performance gave Federer no chance of getting lucky for a second time.
Ageing is inevitable, and while Federer wanted one more Grand Slam title at his beloved Wimbledon, he should take pride in all he has given to this sport and the countless young people he inspired to pick up a racquet and chase their dreams. Undoubtedly one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, Federer will leave a lasting legacy on the sport and Wimbledon for generations, regardless of whether this was his last hurrah at the tournament.