In a battle between two first-time ATP Masters 1000 finalists, 26th seed Hubert Hurkacz knows that he will have to put friendship and camaraderie aside for a shot at the Miami Open presented by Itau title.
After enjoying an under-the-radar run in Miami, Hurkacz burst into the spotlight on Friday with a stunner over fourth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets. It was the first time the 24-year-old Pole has won back-to-back matches against Top 10 players in the same tournament, after defeating second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final.
“I think now I’m in the moment,” Hurkacz said in his post-match press conference. “I’m just trying, and obviously super happy to be where I am now, but now we try to prepare as best as we can with [coach Craig Boynton] for that final match on Sunday.”
He will meet a familiar face in that championship match – but it’s one that Hurkacz will be more used to seeing on his side of the net, as the Pole is set to take on 19-year-old Jannik Sinner for the first time.
Good friends, frequent practice partners and occasionally a doubles team, Hurkacz and Sinner have already shared the court at two tournaments since the start of the year, racking up a 3-2 record on the season.
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“We played doubles together last week in Dubai,” Hurkacz said, grinning in an on-court interview. “Now we’re playing in the final of a Masters 1000 event, so it’s going to be a fun match.”
The #NextGenATP Italian has called Hurkacz one of his best friends on court, and the Pole had some kind words of his own for the fast-rising teen ahead of their battle.
“Jannik is a great person. I think like [he’s] super, super calm and super chill, and also he’s a good person,” Hurkacz said. “We joke around. We are good friends, so I wish him well.”
Hurkacz is looking for his third ATP Tour title and the biggest of his career in Miami. The Pole began the season on a tear, triumphing at the Delray Beach presented by VITACOST.com. But he hit a ‘skid’ in the weeks that followed, and had struggled to return to his best tennis heading into the first Masters 1000 event of the year.
Even after a milestone fortnight in South Florida – where he’s racked up a nine-match winning streak, including his run in Delray Beach – the most important moment for Hurkacz came early in the tournament. After a tough battle in the opening round, the Pole sealed more than just a confidence-boosting win over Denis Shapovalov in the second: it was the first time he closed out back-to-back victories in four tournaments.
Jeszcze jeden krok w @MiamiOpen do zrobienia 😉💪🎾
Dzięki za wsparcie👊
Just one more step to take in #MiamiOpen2021 😉💪🎾
Thx for all your support 👊#MiamiOpen #jazda #Hubi pic.twitter.com/DUOmzjQ616
— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 3, 2021
“In the first round I beat Denis Kudla, but [it was] obviously… [a] close match [that] I won in the tie-breaker the first set,” he reflected. “But after that, Denis Shapovalov – [he] beat me the week before in Dubai.
“I think every single match was very tough. [I am] super pumped I was able to come through all of those matches.”