Miami Open Daily Preview: Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz Vie for their First Masters 1000 Title - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Daily Preview: Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz Vie for their First Masters 1000 Title

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Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz are both 2-0 in ATP finals (miamiopen.com)

With Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic all absent, the men’s singles event felt wide open before it even started.  Nevertheless, having two finalists ranked outside the top 30 is quite a surprise.  But these two young players potentially have a big upside, and one is about to win the biggest title of their career.

 

19-year-old Jannik Sinner first made his impression on tour in 2019, in his home country’s biggest event. In front of a raucous crowd at the Rome Masters, he upset Steve Johnson, while ranked 263rd in the world.  Six months later, Sinner was the Italian wild card at the Next Gen Finals, and impressively won the event.  Since the tour restart last August, he won his first two ATP titles.  Now in only his third Masters 1000 appearance, he’s reached the championship match.

24-year-old Hubert Hurkacz first made his impression on tour in 2019, reaching the quarterfinals in Indian Wells with victories over Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov.  Later that year in the same country, he claimed his first ATP title in Winston-Salem.  Hubi went a modest 15-13 in the abbreviated 2020 season, but started off 2021 with his second ATP title in Delray Beach.  Now he’s advanced to his third ATP final, all of which have come in the United States.

Jannik Sinner (21) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (26) – 1:00pm local time

These two have never been on opposing sides of the net on tour, but they have shared a court.  They teamed together in both Melbourne and Dubai this season, going 3-1 as a unit.  They’ve spent almost the exact same time on court during this tournament, separated by only four minutes.  Sinner’s biggest hurdles were a marathon encounter with Karen Khachanov, and a tight semifinal against Roberto Bautista Agut.  Hurkacz survived a third set tiebreak against Milos Raonic, and upset second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. 

Hurkacz has served extremely well this fortnight, striking 51 aces and just 11 double faults.  And he’s only been broken five times across six matches despite the courts in Miami playing rather slowly.  Meanwhile, Sinner has been averaging 1.5 breaks per set with his penetrating groundstrokes.  On a day forecast to be cooler and less humid, it will be extremely crucial for Hurkacz to serve big and win some free points.  If this becomes a baseline battle, that’s advantage Sinner.  As comfortable as Hubi is playing on US soil, especially since teaming up with American coach Craig Boynton in 2019, Jannik is the steadier, more consistent player.  And slower conditions favor the Italian, who reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros last fall.  Jannik Sinner should be favored to become the newest first-time Masters champion since Daniil Medvedev two years ago in Cincinnati.

Also on Sunday, the Women’s Doubles Championship (Not before 3:30pm):

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (5) vs. Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani (8) – The Japanese team is looking for their third title of 2021, and have already defeated Carter and Stefani twice this season.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Ons Jabeur Acknowledges Mental Toughness Ahead Of Charleston Semi-Finals

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in her mental game as she heads into her fourth WTA semi-final in Charleston.

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Ons Jabeur (@VolvoCarOpen - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in the mental parts of her game after reaching the Charleston semi-finals.

 

The Tunisian comfortably beat Coco Gauff 6-3 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the last four in Charleston.

It was a dominant performance from the world number 28 who broke on six occasions to set up a semi-final against Danka Kovinic.

However yesterday’s win was also evidence that Jabeur’s mental toughness has improved as in 2020, the Tunisian was 0-5 in quarter-final matches and 0-2 against Gauff having lost in Lexington and Rome to the American teenager.

Speaking after the victory, Jabeur admitted that it was nice to settle those demons last night, “Maybe this year is a revenge year for me,” Jabeur told the WTA website.

“Honestly, mentally-wise I’m much better. I’m getting there. I had my opportunities against her last year. She’s a great player. I know exactly what I’m going to face and I was ready for the battle.

“I’m glad that I’m playing good now. I know that clay is amazing and I gotta say, I have been enjoying sliding a lot lately. It’s the best part of the clay. I like the green clay. It’s different than the red clay but I like it. The bounce is not too high, it’s not too low. It’s a good balance for me.

“I’m just trying to play my game. I’m trying to enjoy after a very tough start to the season. A lot of expectations. I’m really glad I got to prove myself this week and I’m in the semi-finals.”

Jabeur will look to continue her good form in 2020 which saw her climb into the world’s top 30 and end the season with a 27-11 win-loss record.

Saturday will be Jabeur’s fourth WTA career semi-final and her first since 2019 where she reached the last four in Tianjin.

The meeting with Kovinic will be the first WTA Tour meeting of their career although Jabeur won their meeting on the ITF circuit in Budapest in 2018 6-2 6-1.

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Lorenzo Musetti’s Run Ended By Djere In Cagliari

Sonego, Fritz, Basilashvili, join Serb in semi-final line-up.

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Laslo Djere (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Italian teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti’s run at the Sardegna Open was ended by Laslo Djere in an error-strewn match played out in tricky conditions.

 

The 19-year-old, who has looked in supreme form this week and ousted top seed Dan Evans in a second round thriller on Thursday, appeared to run out of steam in the deciding set as the Serb ran out a 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.

The strong gusts that have blown across the centre court all week at the Cagliari Tennis Club appeared to have saved their best efforts for this encounter, as both men seemed to be affected by the tricky conditions. Djere particularly struggled on his serve, offering up 8 double faults, but he was still able to take control of the final set as his young opponent faded.

Musetti will no doubt still be pleased with his work in Sardinia. He will be one to watch next week as a Wild Card at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he has been drawn against Aslan Karatsev in the first round, with a potential second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, third seed Lorenzo Sonego ensured there would still be an Italian representative in the last four as he came through against Yannick Hanfmann 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. The German started impressively and had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Sonego then recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the ensuing tie break to level proceedings, before going on to seal the win.

In the semi-finals Sonego will have the chance to gain revenge for his defeat in Doha last month to Taylor Fritz. The American second seed came through 6-3 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Aljaz Bedene.

Fritz appeared to be cruising at a set and a break up, with his opponent struggling to make an impact on the gangly American. It left Bedene somewhat uncharacteristically venting his frustration, but this seemed to work for the Slovenian as he was able to break back. It was Bedene’s serve that let him down at a crucial moment, two double faults at 3-3 helping to hand Fritz another crucial, and ultimately decisive, break.

The final semi-final spot was claimed by Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 under the floodlights in the final action of the day. Struff has struggled for form so far in 2021 but had looked solid so far this week, and the match-up led to some predictably entertaining rallies. After a tight first two sets, Doha champion Basilashvili was able to take advantage of some Struff errors early in the third, surging to a 3-0 lead. Despite a mini-fightback from the German, Basilashvili clung on to book a Saturday meeting with the unseeded Djere.

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Lorenzo Musetti Blasts ‘Disrespectful’ Evans After Reaching Cagliari Quarter-Finals

Lorenzo Musetti has called Dan Evans disrespectful after reaching the Cagliari quarter-finals.

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Lorenzo Musetti (@atptour - Twitter)

Lorenzo Musetti has hit out at Dan Evans after beating him to reach the last eight in Cagliari.

 

The Italian rising star defeated Evans in a tight contest 6-1 1-6 7-6(8) to reach the quarter-finals in Cagliari.

Musetti saved four match points having been 4-0 and 6-3 down in the final set tiebreak before rallying back to claim victory.

However after the match there was an unusual celebration from the 19 year-old, who threw his racket into the ground.

Clearly frustrated, the Italian made it known after the match that he didn’t appreciate Evans’ attitude, “There are respectful experienced players on the pitch. Others like Evans, they try to use my youth to shoot (win) matches,” Musetti was quoted as saying by TennisHead in his post-match press conference.

“But it’s all experience for me. Evans disrespected me. I don’t want to be treated like a young man. It was really tough. I was 3-6 down in the tiebreak and he was playing good, always going to the net and always aggressive.

“I tried to stay calm and tried to play each point. That is what I did and it worked, so I am really happy and really proud of myself with this win.”

During the match, Evans implemented some unusual return positioning in the second set which is what may have upset the Italian.

However the main thing is Musetti is now into the quarter-finals in Cagliari as he continues his rise among tennis’ elite.

The Italian has already beaten the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov as he has already broken into the top 100.

Musetti will play Laslo Djere of Serbian in the last eight on Friday.

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