11:48 AM GMT April 04, 2021
The 24-year-old needed one hour and 45 minutes to clinch the biggest ATP Tour title of his career, and his second of the year after lifting the trophy at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. The victory extended Hurkacz’s unbeaten 2021 run in South Florida to 10-0.
“Last year I spent here almost half a year,” Hurkacz said in an on-court interview. “I was practising in the hottest weather during the spring and summer here, so I think that helped me a lot playing now in Florida, especially in these pretty tough conditions here, because it was a little bit slow here. The wind was blowing from side to side sometimes, so it’s huge.”
His opponent and occasional doubles partner Sinner, the 21st seed, was trying to become the youngest Miami men’s champion in history at 19 years and seven months. The pair have teamed up to play doubles twice this season – including a quarter-final appearance at last month's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships – but on Sunday they faced each other in singles for the first time.
"Hubi, many congratulations for this week and a half," said the #NextGenATP Italian. "I think you showed what talent you have. I’m more proud what kind of person you are. I have to say [you are] maybe my best friend on Tour. Maybe we should play more doubles together."
It was the Polish player’s experience that ultimately made the difference, with 26th seed Hurkacz looking calm as he powered his way to an early break in each set. Hurkacz dictated with his forehand and forced errors off the Sinner racquet as he took a 3-0 lead. Sinner needed a few games to settle into the contest, but he lifted his level emphatically to get the break back.
Hurkacz kept Sinner under pressure, creating 11 break opportunities throughout the match, and converting on seven occasions. One of those breaks came at 6-5: with Sinner serving for the set the Pole broke to love as he outlasted Sinner from the baseline to send them into the tie-break.
It would prove to be a pivotal game for Sinner, who racked up 39 unforced errors throughout the match, including 28 in the first set alone. The Italian was never able to bounce back after dropping the first set, and Hurkacz powered his way to a 4-0 lead in the second set with a double break.
Although Sinner managed to fight back one of the breaks to narrow the gap to 4-3, he was unable to make any more inroads against the big Hurkacz serve. The Pole didn’t face a break point for the next three games as he served out his third ATP Tour title in Miami.
“The balls felt slow when I went to serve,” Hurkacz said of the final game. “Obviously a tough point. You really want to get a couple of free points and Jannik’s an amazing returner. It was a tough game.”
With the victory, Hurkacz will break into the Top 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time, moving from No. 37 to a career-high No. 16 on Monday. Sinner is also projected to reach a new career-high of his own, rising to No. 23 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.