Watching Roger Federer is Hubert Hurkacz’s first reminiscence tennis.
“He’s simply taking part in completely different,” he says. “The best way he performs, hits the ball. That’s very particular. For positive he’s inspiring to me.”
On Friday on the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, when the 22-year-old Pole steps on one of many greatest phases in tennis for his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, he’ll face off towards his idol, Federer. This time, the Swiss received’t be on tv, however throughout the online.
“[It] was my dream since I used to be a toddler,” says Hurkacz. “That is the best factor that may occur to a tennis participant, taking part in on the large stadiums, huge occasions towards huge gamers…. Particularly right here within the quarter-final is one thing particular for me.”
Hurkacz has hit with Federer as soon as earlier than, in October on the Rolex Shanghai Masters, and known as it an “unbelievable expertise” in an Instagram publish. The Swiss additionally seemed again on that observe session with fondness.
“I keep in mind within the warm-up he barely made a mistake, and each time he made a mistake, he apologised,” says Federer “He’s a very nice man and he appears very candy.”
‘Candy’ is probably not the primary phrase that involves thoughts when considering of a 6’5” tennis participant on the rise, but it surely’s a great way to explain Hurkacz, whose demeanor appears a stark distinction to the flashy automobiles and Robert Ludlum thrillers he enjoys.
In press conferences, Hurkacz won’t give prolonged, philosophical responses like Federer — no less than not but. However on the court docket, his highly effective recreation and swift motion present a potent mixture that ought to assist him proceed his climb on the ATP Tour.
“I’m making an attempt to serve properly, to arrange some extent after I serve. I may also play a bit little bit of defence as a result of once I was youthful, in Poland, we’ve got loads of clay courts,” Hurkacz says. “All through the entire 12 months we performed on clay courts. We didn’t have many exhausting court docket tournaments.”
Hurkacz’s mom used to play tennis, so when he tagged alongside, Hurkacz would attempt to hit balls towards the fence. He then started to work with a coach and preferred the game, and the remaining is historical past.
Would he beat his mother now?
“Perhaps,” Hurkacz, together with his normal smile, says after a pause to deliberate.
Whereas he’s not constructive about defeating Mother, Hurkacz’s on-court efficiency over the previous 12 months has proven he can compete with a few of the greatest gamers on the ATP Tour. This time final 12 months, he was No. 212 within the ATP Rankings, however he went on to qualify for the 2018 Subsequent Gen ATP Finals and is now at a career-high No. 67.
“My foremost objective is to enhance on a regular basis and [be] capable of beat the true high guys,” Hurkacz says.
It’s becoming that the Polish No. 1’s household is with him within the California desert this week, the place he has been working with Craig Boynton — additionally Steve Johnson’s coach — for the primary time at a event. Hurkacz’s efforts in Indian Wells have been one of the best of his profession, defeating Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille, sixth seed Kei Nishikori and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, all in three units.
“I am at all times anticipating a battle. I do know his potential,” Shapovalov says. “We’ve practised a bunch of occasions. I understand how properly he can play.”
Federer is conscious, too. And whereas the five-time champion Swiss is taking part in a first-time Masters 1000 quarter-finalist, the 37-year-old is giving Hurkacz his full consideration.
“I’m joyful for him he’s taking part in so properly now,” says Federer. “Beating Nishikori in Dubai and right here, again to again, and likewise now Shapovalov, that’s some effort. That reveals what he’s obtained and what we’ll see of him sooner or later, so I’m trying ahead to the match.”
Whereas Hurkacz will not be a person of many phrases, he hopes to let his recreation do the speaking towards his idol on Friday.