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Jannik Sinner, Hubert Hurkacz Play Their Way Into Improbable Miami Open Tennis Title Match

By Ricky Dimon

Hubert Hurkacz of Poland reacts after match point against Andrey Rublev of Russia during their men’s singles match at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, 02 April 2021. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

With Indian Wells having been cancelled again in 2021, the Miami Open is the undisputed fifth-biggest tennis tournament in the world.

And its men’s singles final will be…Jannik Sinner vs. Hubert Hurkacz?!?!

It is true that the rest of the 96-man field got an assist from the Big 3–and many others–being absent, but Sinner and Hurkacz certainly don’t have to apologize for capitalizing on the opportunity.

Sinner was first into the title match after outlasting Roberto Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday afternoon. It was Sinner’s second three-set victory over Bautista Agut in as many tournaments, having previously prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in Dubai. This one required two hours and 28 minutes, during which the 19-year-old not only came back from a set down but also recovered from a break down in the third. A furious string of winners allowed Sinner to break at love in the final game.

Jannik Sinner of Italy. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“It feels unbelievable,” the Italian assured. “It’s always tough to play against Roberto. Two weeks ago we played in Dubai, we had a tough one there. Now, a tough one here. I’m very happy about reaching the final here in Miami.”

Hurkacz’s final appearance is even more surprising, although nothing about success in the state of Florida should come as a shock. After all, the Pole has frequently trained at Saddlebrook in Tampa with John Isner and plenty of other Americans. Hurkacz kicked off his 2021 campaign with a title at Delray Beach, and now he is up to even bigger and better things just down the road in Miami.

Facing title favorite Andrey Rublev on Friday night, Hurkacz powered his way to a 6-3, 6-4 upset in one hour and 27 minutes.

It was a convincing performance by the world No. 37 in which the only real trouble he ran into–aside from just one loss of serve–came at the end of each set. He survived a deuce game at 5-3 in the first and then saved three break points while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second.

Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“It means a lot,” Hurkacz said. “It’s really huge for me…. I was a little bit tight (at the end)–especially against Andrey. He hit some amazing shots. I was trying to play my best and stay relaxed as I could.”

Now the biggest match of each player’s career awaits on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first-ever meeting between Sinner and Hurkacz, although they were just on the same sid of the tennis court–as doubles partners in Dubai.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.