The first Masters 1000 title of the season has been won by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who defeated Italy’s Jannik Sinner in straight sets at the Miami Open.
Obviously I was trying to stay as solid as I can, because he can hit the balls so hard ... if you let him do that, like, he’s just gonna run around. So I was just trying to keep his pace and be able to fight for each ball Hubert Hurkacz
In a final which no one could have predicted at the start of the event, the 26th seed held his nerve better than his 19-year-old opponent in what was their first appearance in title deciding match of a Master’s level tournament.
The Pole, the first from his nation to win a Masters title, completed what had been a dream run with victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev – both strong title contenders at the start of the event – to score a 7-6(4) 6-4 victory and pick up the $300,110 champion’s cheque in what was only his third final on the ATP Tour.
“It feels incredible. It’s tough for me to say anything now but I’m so happy,” Hurkacz said in his on-court interview.
It didn’t take him long to get on track as he took advantage of Sinner’s greater inexperience and nerves to break him in his opening game and open up a 3-0 early lead with relative ease.
But the youngster has become known for his fightbacks and immediately battled back to level with some thunderous forehands as the match settled into a proper battle between two evenly matched adversaries and, as the set rolled towards its conclusion, it was Sinner who emerged with the advantage when he broke for 6-5.
Now it was Hurkacz’s turn to fight back and he did to successfully prevent himself going down a set by breaking to love and forcing a tie-break .
There he was aided by two unfortunate errors off the teenager’s racket – a forehand shank and a misjudged shot over the baseline put the Pole 5-2 up, an advantage he was able to hang onto to claim the opening set after 59-minutes of play.
The momentum was now in Hurkacz’s favour and he made the most of it as Sinner also started to show signs of fatigue following his equally impressive run into the final. But that didn’t stop him fighting as he clawed his way back from 0-4 in the second set, to 3-4 but it proved all too late as Hurkatcz completed his win a few games later.
“That was a huge game (4-3). I was a little bit nervous. I had opportunities to get a triple break to serve for it. Then Jannik started to hit the ball really well,” the new champion reflected.
“He’s an amazing competitor and I’m so happy that I was able to come through it.”
Hurkacz, who is expected to rise to 16th on the world rankings, went on to add: “I had a big belief in myself … Winning the tournament like this like gives you extra, I think, like motivation and self-confidence.
“You’re able to do it, like you came through like some really hard moments.
“Obviously I was trying to stay as solid as I can, because he can hit the balls so hard … if you let him do that, like, he’s just gonna run around. So I was just trying to keep his pace and be able to fight for each ball.”
Hurkacz had acclimatised himself to the hot and balmy conditions by spending nearly half of last year in Florida and winning the Delray Beach Open in January
“I was solid throughout the whole tournament, and I was able to get through each round, was even more pumped for the next round. So I think that’s something special for me,” he said after picking up the biggest trophy of his career.
“My tennis is getting better.”
Meanwhile the vanquished finalist is putting it all down to experience.
“Now (it’s) back to work and now the clay season is on. So I don’t want to waste time today. I think I can learn many things. Then, I mean, next week already is another tournament. Got to be ready,” Sinner said.