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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday April 2, 2021

Hubert Hurkacz

Hubert Hurkacz topped Andrey Rublev in straight sets to become the first Polish player to reach a Masters 1000 final in 9 years.

Photo Source: Getty

Hubert Hurkacz entered the Miami Open with a 14-13 record at the Masters 1000s with only a quarterfinal (2019 Indian Wells) to his name. But in Miami, where each card-carrying member of the Big 3—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—are absent from the same Masters 1000 draw for the first time since the 2004 Paris Masters, Hurkacz has seized on an opportunity and reached the biggest final of his career.

Tennis Express

On Sunday the World No.37 convincingly marched past World No.8 Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 to book a date with 19-year-old Jannik Sinner in Sunday’s final.

Sinner, who became the youngest Miami Open finalist since 2007 when he took out Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, has been a doubles partner of Hurkacz on two occasions this year. The two are cut from the same cloth in many ways. Both hard-working, soft-spoken and well-liked by their peers, they will battle each other for one of the biggest prizes of the young 2021 tennis season on Sunday.

"Jannik is a great person," Hurkacz said on Friday. "Super, super calm and super chill, and also he's good person. So, I mean, he's really nice guy and he really like wants it hard to compete to win. ... The results that he has are obviously because of his hard work."

Hurkacz has been a slower blossoming talent, but he too appears ready to tick the next level of his development. He's aware of the tremendous opportunity that exists in Miami, with so many top players electing not to make the trip this year, and he's put himself in position to be the one to raise the trophy.

“I knew like … Novak and Rafa, Dominic, Roger not gonna play this event, so it's gonna be like some of the younger guys gonna have a chance to play really deep there,” Hurkacz told reporters in a virtual press conference on Friday evening. “Obviously I was just trying to work on my game and play my best tennis. Yeah, luckily and happily I'm here in the finals now.”

Rublev was the consensus favorite heading into the match despite his 0-1 lifetime record against the 24-year-old Pole, but it didn’t take Hurkacz long to take command of the match. He jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held the double-break lead at 5-1 before Rublev rallied back to close to 5-3.

Credit Rublev, who struggled mightily in the early going, but still found a way to make the match feel close. He saved a pair of set points while Hurkacz served at 5-1 in the first, then another two while serving at 2-5.

Hurkacz was down 0-30 while serving for the set at 5-3 but hammered two aces to get to 30-all. After Rublev saved a fifth set point the Pole ripped a 128 MPH ace to earn set point number six, which was the charm.

“I almost come back,” Rublev told Tennis Now after the match. “But it was not enough. I was not playing that aggressive like normally I'm playing. I was a bit more defensive. So, yeah, I didn't probably handle pressure, emotions well, and that was the key."

The third set was closer but followed a similar script. Hurkacz, who used his backhand to great effect, pushing Rublev back and ensuring that it was he who bossed the rallies, led 5-3 in the set before Rublev mounted another push.

The Russian saved a match point and held for 4-5, putting the pressure back to Hurkacz, who then faced a pair of break points, saving them both with verve. But Rublev lashed a backhand pass up the line to earn a third break point, which Hurkacz saved by firing a beautiful backhand up the line and finishing at the net a few points later.

The Pole fired his eighth ace, a 133 MPH blast, up the T for his third match point and finished the contest with a forehand winner to earn his second Top 10 week of the week and become the first Polish player to reach a Masters 1000 final since Jerzy Janowicz at the 2012 Paris Masters.

It was a rough loss for Rublev to swallow. The ATP’s 2021 win leader with 20 victories, he has been one of the hottest players on tour since the start of 2020. But until this week he had not reached beyond the quarterfinals of the Masters 1000. He took that step this week, but could not push further.

“Hurkacz, he was the one who was dictating,” Rublev said. “He was the one who was controlling the match.”


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