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shock exit Roger Federer waves what may have been a final farewell to Wimbledon's Centre Court

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Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to the crowd after losing his men's Singles Quarter Final match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to the crowd after losing his men's Singles Quarter Final match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to the crowd after losing his men's Singles Quarter Final match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

As Roger Federer prepared to start what may prove to be his final service game at Wimbledon, the a packed Centre Court crowd rose as one to salute the greatest player The Championships has ever seen.

His final performance may was not a glorious flashback for the genius who has won Wimbledon on eight occasions as instead, this was a moment so many Federer fans have been dreading for so many years.

While the dreamer lurking inside Federer's soul may have envisaged one final forehand winner on finals day, a last flashing moment of glory for the most popular tennis player the game has ever seen, reality was always likely to get in the way and so it proved as Poland's Hubert Hurkacz inflected a 6-3, 7-6, 6-0 defeat on the eight-time Wimbledon champion in front of a stunned Centre Court crowd.

Hurkacz may be a top 20 performer, but Federer would have expected to beat him with plenty to spare given his improving form over the course of this latest push for a ninth Wimbledon title.

Yet this was the day when Federer suddenly looked every day of his nearly 40 years, with the magic he has always brought onto his favourite court so badly missing as he looked slow, lethargic and in the end appeared to be eager for his misery to end.

That ovation that enveloped Centre Court from a packed crowd as Federer served at 5-0 down in the third set sent a shiver down the spine and as the great man fumbled the ball as he tried to serve, it was clear that the enormity of the moment had hit him.

Yet all good things come to an end, even for the greatest in sport.

His army of admirers around the world will hope Federer can defy logic again and still have moments of glory in his future, but this felt like the end and it almost certainly was for a champion who has never performed like this at Wimbledon until now and never lost a set 6-0 in this tournament until what is likely to have been his last.

"He won't want to carry on unless he feels like he can win," declared John McEnroe as he commentated on a match that has a real sense of finality about it and while Hurkacz deserves credit for holding his nerve to beat his idol, he was not up against the real Federer.

This was a Federer who looked off the pace in the first set, missed glorious chances to win the second set tie-break and then had nothing left to even think about a comeback.

If this is the best he can offer in a Wimbledon quarter-final, the retirement decision has been made for him and while he will not want his career to end like that, this was the risk he ran as he carried on beyond the age of 39.

Tears will be shed around the tennis world when confirmation arrives that Federer's glorious career has come to an end.

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