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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, April 4, 2021

 
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Hubert Hurkacz broke four times fending off his doubles partner Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4 to win the Miami Open and make history as the first Polish Masters 1000 champion.

Photo credit: Miami Open Facebook

Hubert Hurkacz could hear an airplane overhead and feel the turbulence amid the swirling net.

A clear-eyed Hurkacz absorbed it all sticking a historic Masters landing.

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Playing with poise and purpose, Hurkacz broke four times fending off his doubles partner Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4 to win the Miami Open title and make history as the first Polish Masters 1000 champion.

"I'm so happy," Hurkacz said. "I was a little bit nervous. I had opportunities to get triple break and serve for it until Jannik start to hit the ball really well. He's an amazing competitor.

"The balls felt slow when I served [for the title]. At that point you really want to get a couple of free points. Jannik was an amazing returner. That last game was a tough one. I'm so happy."




The 24-year-old Hurkacz has cause for celebration. Hurkacz defeated back-to-back Top 10 opponents with inspired wins over second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and fourth-seeded Andrey Rublev before topping his doubles partner in a victory that will vault him to a career-high rank of No. 16. Hurkacz, who defeated Sebastian Korda to win nearby Delray Beach in January, raised his record to 10-0 in the Sunshine State with a controlled and confident performance.

Hurkacz trains in Florida with coach Craig Boynton, and credits his familiarity with the unruly windy conditions with helping him make history as the first man to sweep Delray Beach and Miami crowns in the same season.

"Last year I spent like almost half a year here," Hurkacz said. "I was practicing in the hottest weather here and I think that helped me a lot especially in these pretty tough conditions. It was a little bit slow and the wind was moving side to side."




The 19-year-old Sinner was the fourth teenager to contest the final in the 36-year-history of the Miami Open. Sinner, who had won his previous two finals, was cracking the ball with more vigor, but committed more errors and did not manage his serve as well as Hurkacz, whom Sinner calls "my best friend" on Tour.

"First of all Hubie many congratulations for this week-and-a-half," said Sinner, who partnered Hurkacz in Melbourne and Dubai. "I think you showed what talent you have. I'm more proud what kind of person you are. You are maybe my best friend on tour. Maybe we should play some more doubles together."

Understandably jittery at the outset playing his biggest career final, Sinner double-faulted to face double break point and netted a drive handing Hurkacz the first break just as he'd done in his semifinal vs. Roberto Bautista Agut.




Sixteen minutes into the match, Sinner overcame another double fault to get on the board, holding in the fourth game.

That hold relaxed the teenager who began timing his strokes with a relaxed intensity.  Sinner curled a crosscourt forehand into the corner and backed Hurkacz up with a biting backhand breaking back in the fifth game.

The 6'5" Pole serves with more authority and subtlety than Sinner. Hurkacz can mix spin, speed, height and location of his serve—he showed that varied serve spectrum holding at 15 for 5-4.

Playing closer to the line than his doubles partner, Sinner kept Hurkacz pinned behind the baseline with a barrage of backhands then changed course, cracking a clean backhand down the line for break point. Pouncing on a second serve, Sinner compelled a netted backhand breaking for 6-5 after 48 minutes.

Serving for the set, a sloppy Sinner could not keep the ball between the lines spraying a backhand beyond the baseline to give back the break.

Neither man had dropped a set during the tournament, including Hurkacz fighting off Milos Raonic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in a tense fourth-round win.

Conceding his doubles partner held the power edge as a swirling wind stiffened in the tie beaker, Hurkacz dropped back behind the baseline and challenged Sinner to hit through him.

After Sinner sailed three errors, Hurkacz unleashed a slice serve down the T setting up a forehand winner for four set points at 6-2.




On Hurkacz's third set point, Sinner mis-hit a forehand that floated long. The lanky Pole was the more stable, sound player in the breaker leaking forehands from the teenager to charge through 10 of the last 12 points taking the first set in 59 minutes.

Repelling a heavy barrage of Sinner blasts from behind the baseline, Hurkacz was doing more moving but also drawing more errors. Sinner would have been wise to play some shorter, sharper angles to exploit his doubles partners deeper court positioning. Insead, Sinner dragged a mis-hit forehand wide as Hurkacz broke to start the second set.

Rapping a return down the line to stretch the teenager, Hurkacz showed his strong transition skills streaking forward and bumping a volley in the short court snatching the double break for a 3-0 second-set lead.

Staring down a couple of break points that would have put him in double break, love-five hole, Sinner made a stand. The world No. 31 cleaned up his act from the baseline, reduced the loose errors and put together a run streaking through 10 of 11 points to cut the deficit to 3-4.

Tennis Express

The pressure shifted squarely on Hurkacz's shoulders at 30-all in the ensuing game. The calm Pole withstood it whipping a forehand winner down the line holding for 5-3 and moving four points from a maiden Masters championship.

Attacking net, Hurkacz blocked a high forehand volley for 30-love. A final Sinner error strayed wide ending a 20-shot rally and sending Hurkacz to the title after one hour, 43 minutes.

 

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