It’s safe to say that few predicted Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner would meet in the final of the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season. But both men have a massive opportunity in Sunday’s Miami Open presented by Itau championship clash and the big question is, who will take advantage of the moment?
Two of the nicest guys on Tour will step on Grandstand in South Florida for the biggest match of their young careers Sunday, but only one can walk off as the winner. Hurkacz and Sinner have never competed against one another, nor has either player previously reached a Masters 1000 final. But the two-time doubles partners will turn into rivals, at least for a day.
“Jannik is a great person. I think like it’s super, super calm and super chill, and also he’s good person. He’s a really nice guy and he really wants it hard, [he] competes to win,” Hurkacz said. “He’s a really, really great guy. The results that he has [are] obviously because of his hard work.”
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
The Miami opponents count each other as friends. But they have to put their friendship aside and focus on the task at hand. A win on Sunday will be the biggest of the champion’s career. Although Hurkacz and Sinner have both enjoyed incredible runs thus far, there is still plenty at stake.
Sinner is just the fourth teen to reach the Miami final. The other three who have accomplished the feat — Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — have all climbed to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. A victory would make the #NextGenATP Italian the youngest titlist in tournament history.
“It’s a great result here,” Sinner said. “But first, I have one more match in front of me.”
The 19-year-old is the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since Nadal triumphed at the 2005 Mutua Madrid Open. He isn’t allowing himself to get wrapped up in the attention he is receiving, though. While the teen is happy that his achievements are putting him in elite company, Sinner is fully focussed on beating Hurkacz.
“We came here I think with the right mentality, with the right mindset. We always go to every tournament to win, trying to win as many matches as possible,” Sinner said. “Some weeks you do better and some weeks you do a little bit worse, but I think I have a good team behind me who can show me many, many things.”
Teenage ATP Masters 1000 Champions
|Player||Masters 1000 Titles As Teen|
Sinner knows Hurkacz will be a difficult opponent, telling Tennis Channel on Friday that, “Hurkacz has [had] a very good run here. He can play very, very good.”
The Polish No. 1 has dismissed back-to-back Top 10 opponents, eliminating World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and World No. 8 Andrey Rublev. It has been an impressive road to the final considering he began the week having lost five of his previous seven matches.
“Obviously I was just trying to work on my game and play my best tennis,” Hurkacz said. “Luckily and happily, I’m here in the finals now.”
Stats Entering The Final
|Stats||Jannik Sinner||Hubert Hurkacz|
|First-Serve Pts Won||69%||77%|
|Second-Serve Pts Won||57%||53%|
|Break Points Saved||74% (25/34)||78% (21/27)|
|Break Points Converted||44% (18/41)||31% (10/32)|
It should be an interesting tactical match. Sinner is one of the cleanest hitters on the ATP Tour and although Hurkacz is 6’5” and can play aggressively — as he showed against Rublev and Tsitsipas — he excels with his movement. Some have compared the Pole to former World No. 1 Andy Murray. Wojtek Fibak, the only other Polish ATP Tour titlist, who reached the Top 10 in singles and doubles, expects a good match on Sunday.
“They are very similar. They have all the same characteristics: serve, backhand, forehand, movement, tall guys, big serves. Maybe the second serve of Hubert is a bit better, more consistent. And I think Hubert has more experience, because he’s been on the Tour longer,” Fibak told ATPTour.com. “Tomorrow I think will be a bit closer because of all the weapons Sinner has. He has the same weapons as Hubert. He knows how to play at the net… he has the same talent and he’s working hard, but he’s only 19.”
The battle could come down to who is more clutch in the big moments. Hurkacz and Sinner have saved 78 and 74 per cent of the break points they have faced this tournament, respectively. Will the Pole shine for his country, or will Sinner continue his rapid rise?
“I’m happy about what I was able to do this week,” Sinner said. “There is one more match in front of me, so I’m trying to play my tennis.”