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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for the Miami Open Tennis Final: Jannik Sinner vs. Hubert Hurkacz

Jannik Sinner of Italy in action against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain during their semifinal at the Miami Open tennis tournament. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

By Ricky Dimon

What is probably the sixth-biggest title in the 2021 tennis world is all coming down to two players outside the top 30 in the rankings. Even when you consider the absences of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and others, Jannik Sinner vs. Hubert Hurkacz is still a shocking Miami Open final.

Gone are the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, and Denis Shapovalov.

Hurkacz was responsible for no less than three of those scalps. The world No. 37 upset Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6(6) in the third round, Tsitsipas 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, and Rublev 6-3, 6-4 in the semis. Combined with defeats of Denis Kudla and Milos Raonic, Hurkacz is now just one win away from his second Florida-based title of 2021. He previously lifted the trophy at the season-opening event in Delray Beach.

A Miami title would be exponentially bigger, of course, even though Hurkacz vs. Sinner may feel like another 250 final. That isn’t to take anything away from either competitor, but you almost see top 10 players exclusively in the finals of Masters 1000 events. A No. 31 vs. No. 37 matchup is wildly out of the ordinary at this level.

But it may not be long before these two finalists are near the top of the sport…Sinner especially. The 19-year-old Italian will climb to at least No. 21 in the rankings and he will be 14th if he triumphs on Sunday. A red-hot Sinner has won two of his last seven tournaments dating back to the end of last season and he has reached at least the quarterfinals of four events already in 2021–including two finals. So far in Miami he has ousted Hugo Gaston, Karen Khachanov, Emil Ruusuvuori, Alexander Bublik, and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Next up his doubles partner from just two weeks ago in Dubai.

Hubert Hurkacz of Poland waves after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Miami Open. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

“We played doubles together [two weeks ago] in Dubai and now we are playing each other in a Masters 1000 final,” Hurkacz reflected. “It’s going to be a fun match…. Jannik is a great person. I think [he’s] super calm and super chill. (But) he really wants it; [he] competes to win…. The results that he has [are] obviously because of his hard work.”

Sinner’s mental strength, too, is incredibly impressive as a teenager. It’s something Bautista Agut praised following his semifinal setback against the youngster, to whom he also lost in Dubai in a tight three-setter. It is true that Hurkacz is on fire in Florida, but prior to this fortnight his results had been far more inconsistent than those of Sinner. In what should be a competitive contest, Sinner’s nerve and his slightly superior shot-making ability may prove to be the difference in the pressure-packed moments.

Pick: Sinner in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.