LONDON — One legend’s quest to make Wimbledon history continues, while another’s future at the venue has to be in doubt.
Novak Djokovic raced to a 5-0 lead before dropping three consecutive games to his unheralded quarterfinal opponent, 48th-ranked Marton Fucsovics. He wasted five set points in the process, too.
Soon enough, Djokovic righted himself, as he usually does, and beat Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on a windy, overcast afternoon at Centre Court to reach his 10th semifinal at the All England Club and 41st at a major tournament.
Roger Federer was never able to right himself. He shockingly lost in straight sets to 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
Federer underwent two operations on his right knee in 2020 and was sidelined for more than 12 months in all. He arrived at Wimbledon having played a total of eight matches this season.
Factor in age — Federer turns 40 on Aug. 8, so this was his last major in his 30s — and maybe it was just too much to ask that he make his way to the closing weekend, even if this is a tournament he has won more than any other man, and even if it’s contested on a surface, grass, on which he’s best.
He simply never was able to summon the serving and shot-making that have carried him to 20 Grand Slam titles overall, tied with Rafael Nadal for the men’s record.
Hurkacz, a 24-year-old from Poland, never had made it beyond the third round at any major; that’s when he lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon two years ago.
Still, Hurkacz looked quite comfortable on this unfamiliar stage. He played sublimely, with three times as many winners, 36, as unforced errors, 12.
In the opening set, he didn’t face so much as a single break point and was guilty of just four unforced errors to Federer’s 10.
It appeared Federer finally was beginning to make some headway early in the second set, earning a trio of break points and nosing ahead 2-0 on a double fault. After his second serve found the net, Hurkacz pointed an index finger at his temple, then shook his head.
Federer then weathered three break points in the next game to lead 3-0.
But Hurkacz conceded nothing. Undaunted by the setting, the stakes, the foe or the almost-uniformly-for-Federer fans, Hurkacz claimed four of the next five games to pull even at 4-all, breaking along the way with a stinging forehand return of a 101 mph serve that rushed Federer and drew a backhand into the net.
In the tiebreaker — which was preceded by loud chants from the full-to-capacity stands of “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” and rhythmic clapping — it was more of the same: Hurkacz hitting his spots and Federer stumbling.
On one foray to the net, Federer lost his footing and, in the process of catching his balance, missed what could have been a simple volley.
The third set went by in a blink, and when it ended with Federer missing a forehand well wide, he quickly packed his bags and hustled off toward the locker room with a wave and a thumbs-up.
Federer hasn’t lost in straight sets at Wimbledon since winning his first title at the famous venue. He had never lost a set 6-0 at Wimbledon.
Djokovic, 34, from Serbia, continues his pursuit of a sixth championship at Wimbledon — and what would be a third in a row — along with a 20th Grand Slam title overall, which would tie Federer’s and Nadal’s record
Djokovic improved to 19-0 in matches at majors this season as he pursues the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969. He seized trophies on the Australian Open’s hard courts in February and the French Open’s red clay in June and now seeks to add one on Wimbledon’s grass.
Djokovic — who finished with more unforced errors, 30, than winners, 23 — will face a first-time major semifinalist, No. 10 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, on Friday.
Shapovalov edged No. 25 Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in nearly 3½ hours at No. 1 Court.
“Obviously, he’s the best player in the world,” Shapovalov said about the prospect of taking on Djokovic, “but I think anything is possible. And when you look at the scoreboard first thing on Friday … it’s going to be 0-0. So that’s it. Nothing else matters.”
The 2016 Wimbledon boys’ champion compiled nearly twice as many winners as Khachanov, 59-31. That total included 17 aces for Shapovalov, which helped lessen the impact of his 10 double faults.
On the other side of the draw, Hurkacz will play the winner of No. 7 Matteo Berrettini of Italy against No. 16 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.
Federer and Djokovic have won a combined 13 titles at Wimbledon and made 30 appearances in the quarterfinals.
None of the other six men left in the draw when Wednesday began had ever been to the quarterfinals at the All England Club, equaling a tournament record for the most debuts in the round of eight.
Indeed, only one member of the group previously went as far as the semifinals at any Grand Slam tournament: Berrettini lost at that stage in the 2019 US Open.
The women’s semifinals Thursday will be No. 1 Ashleigh Barty vs. 2018 champion Angelique Kerber, and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 8 Karolina Pliskova.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.