After a performance that he cannot be ashamed of, Hubert Hurkacz lost to the world number one Novak Djoković 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 4-6 in the third round of Wimbledon.
Poland’s highest ranked tennis player put on quite a show at Wimbledon Court No. 1 on Friday. He fought hard against his experienced opponent who needed over three hours to finally celebrate victory.
The match was close-fought both in the first and the second set. The players electrified the audience with multiple stunning rallies and Hurkacz thrilled the crowd with his acrobatics to win many key points throughout the match.
Both the first and the second set saw the athletes go 5:5 in games. In the first Djoković had the final say after breaking Hurkacz and then winning his service game.
However, when the situation repeated itself an hour later the Polish player first acrobatically dive-volleyed to save a setball and then proceeded to push the Serbian into the defensive in the tie-break, which he won 7:5.
Winning a set against the 15-time Grand Slam champion was already an achievement in itself but it just wet Hurkacz’s appetite. However, in the third and fourth sets he could not repeat his performance from the first half of the match. After just 25 minutes the scoreboard showed 2:1 in sets and after another 40 minutes - 3:1.
Still, the match was a significant improvement in the Polish player’s performance compared to his last match against the Serbian, played in May at the French Open. The mismatch was much clearer in Paris as Djoković won 6:4, 6:2, 6:2 in 96 minutes. In London, Hurkacz showed that he can, for significant parts of a match, compete with the best as an equal.
Djoković was greatly impressed by the young Pole’s performance. “It was a great fight the first couple of sets. He deserved to win the second one,” he said after the game.
"It's great we have a new group of young players challenging the best players. The shift is happening,“ the Serb added.
Despite the defeat, 22-year-old Hurkacz will advance five positions in the ATP ranking, to the 43rd spot.
Łukasz Kubot plays on
Also on Friday, another Polish athlete advanced to the third round of Wimbledon, but in the men’s doubles. Łukasz Kubot, paired with Brazilian Marcelo Melo, defeated the Australian pair Matt Reid and Alex de Minaur 6:7 (11-13), 6:4, 6:3, 7:6 (12-10).
They will face Divij Sharan and Marcelo Demoliner on Monday.
The Polish-Brazilian pair is seeded first in the tournament.
poland in, bbc sport