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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, January 13, 2021

 
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Hubert Hurkacz dissected a hobbled Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 to capture his second career title at the Delray Beach Open.

Photo credit: Andrew Patron/BigShots/Delray Beach Open Facebook

Hubert Hurkacz was flying high in 2020 ascending to a career-high rank of No. 28.

Today, Hurkacz stuck a historic homecoming landing.

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The Polish baseliner who now calls Florida home soared through a five-game run dissecting a hobbled Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 to capture his second career title at the Delray Beach Open.

Hurkacz rallied from 1-3 down rolling through 11 of the last 14 games becoming the first Polish champion in tournament history. It’s Hurkacz’s first title since he beat Benoit Paire in three sets to capture the 2019 Winston-Salem title.




The world No. 35 exploited an advantageous draw that included a quarterfinal conquest of Roberto Quiroz and a challenging 7-6(4), 6-4 semifinal win over qualifier Christian Harrison. Hurkacz is the first man to win an ATP title without defeating a Top 100-ranked player since Steve Johnson won the 2018 Newport championship.

It was the first pro-level meeting between the 6’5” finalists who are friends. Afterward, Hurkacz praised sometime practice partner Korda, who opted to skip Australian Open qualifying to play Delray Beach and performed like player with a very bright future.

“First of all I want to congratulate Sebastian for an amazing week,” Hurkacz said. “You weren’t 100 percent fit today, but his game is there and he’ll be holding many more trophies in the future.”

Indeed, riding a nine-match winning streak into his first ATP final, Korda wasted no time making a statement at the outset today.

The son of former world No. 2 and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and former WTA No. 26 Regina Korda, Sebi Korda was also a standout hockey player in his younger years before choosing to focus solely on tennis. Sebastian Korda credits his mother with really refining his strokes on the practice court. Both parents were on hand for his maiden ATP final.

A two-week training camp in Las Vegas working with Hall of Famers Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf seems to have helped Korda place a premium on every point.

The 20-year-old Korda is a much more polished player than his age and experience suggests. Though his quest to join his dad in becoming the third father-son duo in the Open Era to win an ATP title was denied—Ramanathan & Ramesh Krishnan and Phil & Taylor Dent are the only father-son duos to do it—Korda exudes the easy power, explosiveness and court sense that make him a player with Top 10 potential.

“Congratulations Hubi, [you] kicked my butt in practice, kicked my butt in the tournament,” Korda said afteward. “And thanks to my family for coming out it means the world you coming out and supporting me all week.”

Pouncing on a net-cord shot that landed mid-court, Korda fired a forehand down the line for triple break point eventually breaking at love to open the match.




The 20-year-old Korda, who showed poise and purpose posting three-set wins over compatriots Tommy Paul and John Isner in reaching his first ATP final, cracked an ace out wide to consolidate.

Probing the corners of the court, Hurkacz began to find his rhythm on serve firing his first ace down the middle to close a love hold in the fifth game.

The first Polish finalist in Delray Beach history put all of his returns back in play in the sixth game then surprised Korda redirecting a backhand winner down the line breaking back to level after six games.

Tennis Express

The lanky Korda generates easy power and hits a bigger ball, but Hurkacz used his variety and court craft to carve out another break. A diagonal backhand returned prodded a break point in the eighth game. Hurkacz provoked another error scoring his second straight break for 5-3.

Serving for a one-set lead, Hurkacz dug out of a love-30 hole then unleashed a wicked slice serve that nearly sent Korda into the grill of the sponsor car parked courtside. That slider serve gave Hurkacz a second set point and he coaxed an errant forehand finishing the 33-minute opening set on a five-game tear.




Korda, who took a treatment during his semifinal win over Cameron Norrie, took the court today with taping beneath his left knee. He seemed to be stretching out his groin or hip area behind the baseline at the start of the second set. Still, Korda held to snap a five-game slide.

After Korda held for a 2-1 second-set lead he took a medical timeout receiving massage on his left leg and hip. Laying on a white towel, Korda was grimacing at times during the treatment, but climbed off the court to resume play after about a five-and-a-half minute break.

Moving slowly between points, an increasingly gimpy Korda was handcuffed by a Hurkacz return deep down the middle that gave the Pole double break point. Hitting behind the hobbled American, Hurkacz forced an error rattling out his third break for a 3-2 second-set lead.




The 23-year-old Pole partnered Felix Auger-Aliassime to win the Rolex Paris Masters doubles crown last November. Pressured in the sixth game today, Hurkacz issued the surprise serve-and-volley off a second serve and that play helped him back up the break for 4-2.

Hurkacz spun a backhand off the sideline for match point. Korda attacked down the line and hopped in the air to play a high forehand volley but opted to let Hurkacz’s slightly mis-hit forehand pass. The shot dropped in sealing Hurkacz’s second career title in 71 minutes.

The first ATP finals of the season—Alex de Minaur beat Alexander Bublik, who retired with a twisted ankle after two games in today’s Antalya final—were both impacted by injury. But both showcased four players capable of making some noise in the new year too.


 

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