Hubert Hurkacz Sinks Sinner To Clinch Historic Title In Miami - UBITENNIS
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Hubert Hurkacz Sinks Sinner To Clinch Historic Title In Miami

The world No.37 battled back from a break down in the first set before dominating the second to clinch the biggest title of his career to date.

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Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz has become the first player from his country to win a Masters 1000 title after defeating an erratic Jannik Sinner in straight sets at the Miami Open.

 

The 26th seed held his nerve to dismiss his 19-year-old opponent 7-6(4), 6-4, in what was only his third final on the ATP Tour. His triumph completes what has been a dream tournament for Hurkacz who also defeated top 10 players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev earlier in the week.

“It feels incredible. It’s tough for me to say anything now but I’m so happy,” Hurkacz told TennisTV afterwards.

With a combined age of 43 years and 81 days the showdown was the youngest men’s final to take place in Miami since Andy Murray’s clash with Novak Djokovic back in 2009. Hurkacz, who is only the second polish man to contest a Masters final after Jerzy Janowicz, started the stronger out of the two. Taking advantage of a nerve-stricken Sinner opening service game he broke en route to opening up a 3-0 lead with relative ease.

However, the lead was short lived as the Italian teenager battled back to draw level with his form elevating. Hitting some thunderous forehand shots the 21st seed continued to weather the storm during what was a roller coaster opening set with both players having advantages. Sinner looked to be on the verge of clinching the first set after a 88 mph backhand winner rewarded him with two break point opportunities which he converted to nudge ahead 6-5. Although he failed to serve it out as Hurkacz broke back to love to take proceedings into a tiebreaker.

It would be Sinner’s unforced errors that would cost him dearly. A forehand shank, followed by another shot going long enabled the Pole to move ahead to 5-2 in the tiebreak and this time it was enough of a margin to see him over the finish line. Hurkacz went on to clinch the set with the help of Sinner’s 28th unforced error of the match after 59 minutes of play.

Continuing his momentum into the second frame, the world No.37 broke instantly as he edged nearer to the biggest title of his career. Mentally, he was the superior one the court at the Hard Rock Stadium as his younger rival began to implode. Who showed signs of physical fatigue during the closing stages.

Sinner continued to battle until the very end as nerves started to trouble Hurkacz. Resulting in his 4-0 lead in the second set being slashed to 4-3. Nevertheless, the resurgence wasn’t enough to change the dynamic of the match as Hurkacz served the match out a couple games later. Sealing the win with the help of another mistake from across the court.

“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 is now 10-0 this season when playing matches in Florida after also winning the Delray Beach Open at the start of the season. He believes his run in wins is linked to last season where he took an extended training block in the region with his coach. He has been mentored by Craig Boynton since 2009.

“Last year I spent almost half a year practising in the hottest weather because it was like spring and summer here (in Florida). I think that helped me a lot, especially in these pretty tough conditions because it was a little bit slow. The wind was blowing from side to side,” he said.

Following his victory, Hurkacz will rise to 16th in the ATP rankings when they are updated on Monday. The highest ranking position in his career so far.

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Former Sampras And Federer Coach Offers Advice To Dominic Thiem

Paul Annacone explains why tennis fans shouldn’t be too concerned by the current difficulties Thiem is experiencing.

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

The difficulties US Open champion Dominic Thiem is facing are similar to those experienced by both Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, according to one of their former coaches.

 

Earlier in the week the world No.4 said he ‘fell in a hole’ after lifting his maiden Grand Slam title in New York and admits to struggling with travelling on the Tour during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a recent interview with Der Standard he hinted at changing his approach to tennis after dedicating so much of his life to the sport over the past 15 years. The ongoing mental struggles come during what has been a mixed start to the season. Thiem has won five out of nine matches played so far in 2021 but he has only won back-to-back matches in one tournament.

Offering some comfort to the 27-year-old, Paul Annacone believes what he is going through is normal and there is no need for alarm bells to be ringing. Annacone is a former world No.12 player who is perhaps best known for his work with Sampras over a seven-year period. He has also coached Federer for three years and Tim Henman for four.

“When you get to that level where he is, now it’s like: ‘Now what?’ Roger and Pete both talked to me a lot about the difference between getting there and staying there,” Annacone told The Tennis Channel.
“And I think that once you get there there’s another evaluation of: ‘Hey, where do I go from here, what do I do and what gives me the joy of doing it? Is it the pursuit or is it the accomplishment?’
“Those are the things that Dominic Thiem has to realize. I think everyone does it for a different reason.
“Pete was all about excellence, accumulating all the trophies and Major titles. Roger lives the life and loves the life. Thiem’s got to figure out what is it for him, what’s gonna keep driving him.”

Annacone said it took former world No.1 Sampras ‘a couple years to settle in’ after winning his maiden US Open title back in 1990. The American didn’t win his next major title until three years later at the 1993 Wimbledon Championships and eventually ended up claiming a total of 14 Grand Slam trophies.

“The one other thing that resonates with me a little differently, is that I remember talking to Pete Sampras when he won the US Open for the first time – something he had been chasing his whole life,” he said.
“He won it and it kind of took him a couple of years to settle in, to go ‘Okay this is what I’m doing’ because after he won he went through a whole process of ‘Why do I play, what do I want to do, this is what I do’.
“It took him a while to get comfortable, so I wonder if that is part of the equation for Thiem right now as well.”

After taking time away from the Tour to ‘reset’ both physically and mentally, Thiem is expected to return to action next week at the Madrid Open in what will be his first clay event of the season. His aim remains to peak in time for the French Open where he has reached the final at on two separate occasions.

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Rafael Nadal Goes The Full Distance To Beat Nishikori And Reach Barcelona Quarter-Finals

The number one seed was forced to go the distance once again.

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Rafael Nadal was made to work hard once again as for the second straight day he played a three set match beating the Japanese world number 39 Kei Nishikori 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 20 minutes.

The 11-time champion hit a total of 21 winners and broke his opponent five times during what was a roller-coaster encounter. Nadal has now won 63 matches at the tournament during his career and has defeated Nishikori twice in Barcelona. The two also met in the final of the 2016 Championships.

 

” I think Kei played a great level of tennis, it was a very tough match, anything could happen,” said Nadal. “It was clear to me I needed something else in the second set and in the beginning of the third . He was playing very clean and I think I did it, I played more aggressive. I’m quite happy with the way I survived and the way that I played”.

The Spaniard got off to a great start holding his opening service game and then earning his first breakpoint of the match by winning a long intense rally and he would go on to break to take an early 2-0 lead.

The very next game Nishikori had two chances to break back to go back on serve but was denied by the Mallorca native as he held serve.

Nadal continued to dominate and it looked like it was going to be a quick and convincing victory. He would set up another breakpoint with a great passing shot, broke once again and would eventually serve out the set to take it 6-0 in 31 minutes.

The world No.3 faced some pressure in the opening service game of the second set but managed to save a breakpoint and hold serve. Nishikori finally made a breakthrough at 1-1 after breaking the Spaniard to take a 2-1 lead.

At 3-1 Nishikori had a chance to go up a double break but again the number one seed hung in and saved both breakpoints. At 4-2 the Florida resident would earn his second break of the set and serve it out to send it to a deciding third set.

In the first game of the final set the Japanese world number 39 earned three more breakpoints but Nadal wasn’t giving in and saved all three before holding serve.

Nishikori had another chance at 1-1 but the Spaniard held his ground and he would eventually make the breakthrough to take a 3-1 lead. At 4-1 the number one seed had a chance to increase his lead but Nishikori again saved both chances.

At 4-2 the world number 39 had a chance to get back in the set and the match but the Spaniard was on his game and the following game broke him one last time to seal the match with a forehand winner down the line.

“I hadn’t played difficult matches for a long time. I hope that will give me more confidence,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion reflected. “Having played two consecutive matches in three sets is not something negative, on the contrary: I have to need to spend time on the court,”

Nadal will next face Cameron Norrie of Great Britain who advanced when David Goffin had to retire due to injury.

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Fabio Fognini Hits Out At ‘Inexplicable’ Disqualification From Barcelona Open

The world No.27 has protested his innocence after losing his temper over a call made by an official.

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Italy’s Fabio Fognini describes the decision to kick him out of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday as a ‘shock’ and has vowed to look further into the matter.

 

The 33-year-old was taking on Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round of the tournament where he was trailing the match 0-6, 4-4. After losing his temper, the world No.27 is said to have been verbally abusive towards a lines official and was subsequently defaulted from the match for his behaviour. The incident occurred over a line call decision which Fognini didn’t agree with.

On court, he tried to protest his innocence by telling the umpire ‘I didn’t say anything’ but it failed to overturn the decision. Leaving Fognini fuming as he broke his racket on purpose.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Italian continued to protest his innocence in the match and said he would ‘investigate’ the matter. It is unclear what he is referring to but players are allowed to make an appeal against any fine if they feel it is unjust.

“I’m really surprised with the ATP, especially the chair umpire and the supervisor, because I was here to play tennis, I was here to fight in the match, and even if I was losing, doesn’t matter,” he said. “But what they did to me was something inexplicable, so I’m going to investigate it, but nothing more, I paid for something that I didn’t do, that’s the first and clearest thing that everybody has to know.”

Zapata Miralles said he was initially unaware of what was going on in his clash with Fognini as he was focusing on closing out the match. Barcelona is only the seventh ATP main draw he has played in so far in his career.

“I was on the other side of the court, I wasn’t listening to be honest,” Tennis Majors quoted the 24-year-old as saying afterwards. “When I saw the referee on the court, I asked the umpire what’s going on. But I was focused on my work on the court, I was thinking on the next point, the next game, on things I had to focus on.”

Fognini has never previously been defaulted from a tennis match but he is no stranger to controversy. At the 2017 US Open he was fined $24,000 for insulting a female chair umpire and at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships he was heard saying ‘I wish a bomb would explode on this club.’ He later apologised for his remarks.

Zapata Miralles will play compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.

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