Friday, March 15, 2019 - Roger Federer plays Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinal of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
Not many would have known Hubert Hurkacz before his quarterfinal at the BNP Paribas Open against his idol Roger Federer – but they’ll certainly be on the lookout for him going forward. The 22-year-old Pole accounted well for himself in perfect Tennis Paradise conditions on a sunny Friday afternoon, but eventually fell 6-4, 6-4 to Federer, a five-time champion in the southern Californian desert.
“Playing on such a huge stadium against Federer, it’s just something different. Still, the match wasn’t one way throughout the whole match. He was playing really, really well, but still I had some small chances, so also give me motivation to work and to get there sometime.”
Holding in the opening game of the first set seemed to relax Hubert, who had every reason to be nervous heading into the match. There’s no need to list the endless achievements of his legendary Swiss opponent, but three ATP Challenger Tour titles and a career-high ranking of No. 67 paled in comparison. Nevertheless, his serve and steady groundstrokes on both wings made a potential blowout competitive, with Federer needing to pull out some of his best tricks to secure his breaks and navigate through difficult service games.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 15, 2019
Federer was at his elegant best throughout the match, showing off the storied footwork that elicits the most vibrant of metaphors as well as the forehand that has helped the 37 year old claim exactly 100 titles.
“I think I feel good playing matches now,” said the Swiss. “Not I haven’t in the past, but I think it was another one of those matches where I think I don’t need too many chances to break. I got clear playing patterns.
“I’m holding my serve comfortably,” he added. “I’m in a good place mentally when I go into my service games. I think it showed this week thus far. So I hope I can keep that up.”
But is title No. 101 around the corner? It remains to be seen.
“Playing against young guys to eventually get to Rafa, that’s exciting,” admitted Federer. “I’m very happy, and I hope he wins so I do get that chance to play against him here.”