Roberto Bautista Agut’s quarter-final upset of top seed Daniil Medvedev already ensured a new ATP Masters 1000 champion at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Now #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner is out to spoil the Spaniard’s party in a Friday showdown on Grandstand.
Sinner has dropped just one set en route to the final four in Miami, where he will aim to become the fourth teenage finalist in the tournament’s 36-year history. Only 1990 champion Andre Agassi (19), 2005 runner-up Rafael Nadal (18) and 2007 winner Novak Djokovic (19) have advanced to the championship match as teenagers.
Seventh seed Bautista Agut — the only quarter-finalist over the age of 25 — will be aiming to avenge his three-set loss to Sinner in the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head encounter earlier this month in Dubai. On that occasion, Sinner struck 48 winners — including 16 aces — to outlast Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
“Especially these [past] two weeks in Dubai and now here, I have more [clarity about] what I have to do,” Sinner said. “It’s working quite well… Especially when you’re 19, honestly, I am focused about improving my tennis… Physically I have to improve very, very much. Mentally, as well. I’m just looking forward to getting better day after day and that’s for me the most important thing.”
Bautista Agut, who saved a match point in his Round of 16 clash against 2018 champion John Isner, is aiming to become the fifth player from Spain — alongside Sergi Bruguera (1997), Carlos Moya (2003), Nadal (2005, ’08, ’11, ’14 and ’17) and David Ferrer (2013) — to reach the Miami final. The 32-year-old enters his second ATP Head2Head encounter against Sinner in peak form, following his quarter-final win against three-time Masters 1000 champion Medvedev.
The Spaniard knows that he will face another tough test from Sinner in Miami. At just 19 years old, Sinner already owns two ATP Tour titles, the Next Gen ATP Finals trophy and has advanced to a Grand Slam quarter-final (2020 Roland Garros).
“It was a very tough match in Dubai, and it was a very tight score,” said Bautista Agut, who is hoping to reach his second Masters 1000 final (2016 Shanghai). “He’s playing great, he’s very solid and he has very good strokes. I think I’ll have to play another good match like tonight.
“Jannik is playing great… I have to say he will be one of the best players in the world. I want to enjoy another good match and be happy about playing in the semi-finals.”
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After emerging in two tight sets from a rain-interrupted quarter-final clash against the 20-year-old Korda on Thursday night, Rublev will look to beat Hurkacz for the first time in the second semi-final in Miami. Rublev has won more matches than anyone else this season (20-3) and is the only player yet to drop a set, but in their only ATP Head2Head prior meeting, the Pole prevailed in three sets in Rome last year.
“In the end, everyone can win now,” Rublev said. “He’s a really great player. He has a really huge serve, really great strokes.
“He’s really aggressive from the baseline. He goes for the shots, and last time we played half a year ago he beat me. It’s going to be an opportunity for me to do better tomorrow, and we’ll see if I can take the rematch.
The hot, humid coastal climate of Miami is far removed from what Hubert Hurkacz grew up with in Poland. The 24-year-old, though, is feeling right at home in South Florida in 2021.
After winning the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com title in January, Hurkacz has now surged into his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final just down the road in Miami. The 26th seed backed up impressive victories over Canadians, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov and 12th seed Milos Raonic, with an upset of No. 2 seed and recent Acapulco runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I think that’s so far one of the best results,” Hurkacz said. “Obviously like winning titles, it’s nice because you win the tournament, but the results, winning a couple of really like close matches in a row, that’s really big for me.”