Win or lose in Wednesday’s Delray Beach Open final, Sebastian Korda has been the player of the ATP's opening week. He’s faced difficult opponents from the onset, earning victories over No. 95 SoonWoo Kwon, No. 52 Tommy Paul, No. 25 John Isner and No. 74 Cameron Norrie. But now, the 20-year-old will face even greater adversity against fourth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, as he aims to capture his first ATP title in his first attempt.
Korda finished his match around 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, which means he didn’t get to bed until midnight at the very latest—assuming he could even fall asleep given his understandable exhilaration. Korda’s quick turnaround for his 3 p.m. ET final is another example of unfortunate scheduling seen all too often in tennis, while his opponent will surely benefit from playing in the same time slot. (Hurkacz defeated Christian Harrison, 7-6 (4), 6-4, in the earlier semifinal.)
There’s a reason Hurkacz was the oddsmakers’ prohibitive pre-tournament favorite: he’s unlikely to see a better draw for the rest of his career. The Pole defeated No. 115 Daniel Galan, No. 293 Roberto Quiroz and No. 798 Harrison en route to his second ATP final. The scheduling is just a bonus for Hurkacz, who should be extremely fresh, having not dropped a set so far.
Korda’s backhand has been the best shot in the tournament. At 6’5”, he is able to step up and drive it with extreme power and accuracy.
But Korda’s forehand was also great against Norrie, and if he’s able to repeat his performance from that wing, he could hit Hurkacz clean off the court.
It’s unlikely Hurkacz out-duels Korda from the ground, but given his extreme length and quickness, he could force Korda to overhit and aim for unrealistic targets. Hurkacz’s defense against Harrison was sensational.
Korda has yet to face an opponent with Hurkacz’s unique combination of firepower and court coverage.
If Korda experiences some first-final jitters, Hurkacz’s rock-solid game will likely cause problems for the American. In addition to his spectacular defensive skills for his size, Hurkacz owns a “get-out-of-jail-free card” in the form of his massive serve, which often exceeds 130 MPH, and has been recorded at 151 MPH. Hurkacz also owns the experience advantage, having already claimed his first ATP title in Winston-Salem in 2019.
According to the oddsmakers, Hurkacz is listed as a slight -128 favorite. But I think this match is a toss-up, and while Korda has been the more impressive player all week, I also expect the Pole’s experience and fresh legs to carry him to a hard-fought victory.
The Pick: Hubert Hurkacz
2021 Pick Record: 6-1