Tuesday, April 20

Hubert Hurkacz fires Jannik Sinner to win the Masters final in Miami | Tennis


For the first time since November 2, 2003, when Tim Henman ended one of the great streaks of his career by defeating Andrei Pavel to win the Paris Masters, two players ranked outside the top 30 contested an ATP Masters 1000 Final on Sunday. in Miami. The occasion offered a clear opportunity for whoever was brave enough to seize it and it was Hubert Hurkacz of Poland who seized the moment wonderfully, beating Italian Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-4 to win his first Masters 1000.

Even in a tournament that marked the first time in 17 years since Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were absent from a Masters 1000 event, Hurkacz’s sublime career came as a surprise. The 24-year-old came to Miami in unremarkable form and, while still a young player building his game, he has spent his time at the top of the sport on the fringes of discussions of his generation as contemporaries like Daniil Medvedev. and Stefanos Tsitsipas established themselves in the top 10.

Hurkacz’s combination of tremendous serve, athleticism and sense of the court is well known, but this week he has raised his bar with the best streak of his career. On his way to the final, he defeated four prominent opponents in succession: Denis Shapovalov (six seeded), Milos Raonic (12), Tsitsipas (two) and fit Andrey Rublev (four), each time forcing himself out of his career. comfort zone to reach the final.

In his short time at the top of the sport, the 19-year-old Sinner has already established himself as one of the cleanest and most destructive ball forwards on the circuit, but he came to the final fault and Hurkacz immediately decided to eliminate risk wherever possible. . . He earned ample returns, defended himself efficiently and was a pillar of consistency in the face of Sinner’s growing unforced errors. He didn’t offer Sinner anything.

Hurkacz immediately broke serve and established a 3-0 lead, but Sinner slowly worked his way into the match, regaining service before breaking to take a 6-5 lead behind a violent ball hit. However, just when he seemed to have taken the lead, Sinner collapsed. In his attempt to get the first set, Sinner sprayed a series of unforced nervous errors and conceded the game to love.

In hindsight, that was the last moment he was really in conflict. He opened the tiebreak with more unforced errors and Hurkacz, unmoved for the moment, coldly took the set. The second set quickly escalated as Sinner began to weaken physically and quickly found himself 4-0 down against an error-free Hurkacz. An impressive late comeback from Sinner was not enough and Hurkacz closed the match by provoking Sinner in a long and grueling final rally, committing a forehand error to finish it off.

Hubert Hurkacz en route to defeat Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-4
Hubert Hurkacz on his way to defeat Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-4. Photography: Larry Marano / Rex / Shutterstock

Even if few expected his career to explode so dramatically and so soon, Hurkacz had had a breakthrough on the charts and the way he handles such a steep rise in profile will tell even more about where he’s headed. He will move up from 37th place in the rankings and into the top 20 for the first time with a career high at 16th place. After being away from the spotlight, he is already forming a target on his back.

Despite his loss, Sinner is the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since Rafael Nadal in 2005 and the only other teens to make it to the Miami Open final went on to rank No. 1 in the world. For all his talent for hitting the ball, this week has been all the more remarkable for the composure and mental toughness that accompanied his victories. He couldn’t take advantage of that strength in the final, but many more opportunities await him.


www.theguardian.com

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