In an unexpected Miami Open final, No. 26 seed Hubert Hurkacz rose to the occasion on Sunday afternoon to become Poland’s first ATP Masters 1000 singles champion. Facing good friend Jannik Sinner, the No. 21 seed, Hurkacz prevailed, 7-6 (4), 6-4, to become the first player to complete Florida’s Delray Beach and Miami double in the same season.
"Last year, I spent here almost half a year. I was practicing in like the hottest weather during the spring and summer," Hurkacz reflected in a post-match interview. "I think that helped me a lot playing in Florida. It's pretty tough conditions here. It's a little bit slow, the wind was blowing from side to side. It's huge."
Prior to world No. 37 Hurkacz, the last time a player ranked outside the Top 30 claimed a Masters 1000 trophy came in 2005, when then 50th-ranked Tomas Berdych triumphed at Paris-Bercy. Hurkacz, who also defeated No. 6 seed Denis Shapovalov, No. 12 seed Milos Raonic, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 4 seed Andrey Rublev en route, is projected to rise to a career-high No. 16.
What the first set lacked in showiness, it made up for in suspense. Hurkacz had opportunities to put his foot down on return. He led 3-0; and kept pressing the Italian after Sinner broke back in the fifth game, creating three break points across his next two return games.
Yet, it was Sinner who served for a one-set lead. At 5-5, a brilliant backhand up the line gave him 15-40, and Hurkacz, who missed his third straight first serve, netted a backhand. Then, nerves took over.
Sinner produced four unforced errors in a row, including a double fault, to give his opponent new life. Serving at 0-1 in the tie-break, Sinner’s inexperience at the net worked in Hurkacz’s favor, as the 19-year-old was unable to block a low half-volley off the Pole’s backhand pass. Sinner erased the mini break—briefly—but two framed forehands, at 2-3 and 4-6, illustrated the stress of the moment.
Hurkacz, who uses all of his 6’ 5’’ frame to his advantage on defense, continued to successfully extend rallies at the start of the second set. Having employed a deeper position compared to his earlier tournament matches to counteract Sinner’s pace, Hurkacz’s steady grinding led to breaking for 1-0.
A well-punched volley soon yielded a double-break advantage, one that would prove beneficial. After missing two break points to put the match on his racquet, Hurkacz saw his opponent compile a three-game stretch to move within 3-4, 30-30. The 24-year-old stood his ground to end the streak, and following Sinner's hold, closed out the nerve-racking victory at 30 when the Italian's forehand landed wide.
"I was a little bit nervous. I had opportunities to get the triple break and serve for it," said Hurkacz. "Then Jannik started to hit the ball really well. he's an amazing competitor. I'm so happy I came through it."
In November 2020, Hurkacz won the 1000 doubles trophy at the Rolex Paris Masters alongside Felix Auger-Aliassime.