Hurkacz Fights His Way Into Montreal Final With Another Three-Set Victory

Hubert Hurkacz (photo: Patrice Lapointe/Tennis Canada)

MONTREAL/WASHINGTON, August 14, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Hubert Hurkacz relied on power to beat Casper Ruud in their semifinal-round match of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal Saturday afternoon. He also mixed up his delivery successfully by displaying an effective serve-and-volley strategy, which enabled him to fight for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory. It lifted Hurkacz into his second career ATP Masters 1000 final.

Meeting for the second time this year after Ruud beat the Polish star at the French Open, the World No. 10 Hurkacz rallied from down a set and an early break to pull even against the World No. 7 from Norway. Then, he broke Ruud on his second opportunity to start the third set after the Norwegian held a 40-0 lead. Hurkacz consolidated the break with his adroit serve-and-volley skills that perplexed Ruud and began to change the tenor of the match.

Next, Hurkacz broke Ruud for the second time in the set and fifth time overall to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Soon, at 5-2, he was serving for the win and a berth in Sunday’s final. Hurkacz triumphed on his second match-point opportunity after Ruud sent a backhand crashing into the net that quashed a 10-shot rally.

All week long, Hurkacz has hung tough in Montreal. It’s the first of back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 hard-court events before the ATP Tour heads to the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, near Cincinnati, leading up to the US Open at the end of the month. The eighth-seeded Hurkacz has won four straight three-set matches – defeating Emil Ruusuvuori, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Nick Kyrgios and Ruud – to reach Sunday’s title match in the 54th edition of the Canadian Open during the Open Era.

“Physically, I feel good,” Hurkacz said during his on-court interview shortly after he secured his semifinal victory over Ruud. He has now how his past six three-set matches. “I’ve been putting a lot of work in these past weeks. So far, so good.”

After Ruud recovered from an 0-3 deficit to pull out the opening set, Hurkacz went to work, regained his composure, and pulled a satisfying victory from what initially looked like would be a disappointing defeat. Instead, it was Ruud leaving Court Central at IGA Stadium with a dejected look on his face, while a happy and elated Hurkacz signed the camera lens with a smiley face.

“I was trying to stay in the game,” Hurkacz said, describing the pressure he faced from Ruud. “Casper was playing really incredible tennis and he was the better player at the beginning, especially for the first set and a half. I was just trying to stay in the game and hold on to compete as good as I can.”

By the conclusion of the two-hour and two-minute match, Hurkacz fired 18 aces, struck 47 winners to just 19 unforced errors and outpointed Ruud 90-85. He converted five of eight break-point opportunities and saved five of eight break points he faced. Meanwhile, Ruud countered with eight aces, hit 32 winners and made 16 unforced errors.

The victory, which improved Hurkacz’s win-loss record for this season to 32-13, advanced him to face No. 23 Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, who defeated 39th-ranked Daniel Evans of Great Britain, 7-5, 6-7 (7), 6-2, in two hours and 59 minutes in their first meeting. Carreño Busta struck 41 winners to 35 unforced errors. He outpointed Evans 112-98. It was Carreño Busta’s third ATP Masters 1000 semifinal, all on hard courts. Now, he’s into his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

“It was fun for the crowd but for me it was tough,” Carreño Busta told ATP Media after his victory. “I had a match point in the second set but he served pretty good so I couldn’t do anything. When you have a match point and have to play another set, it’s always hard to do it.

“Mentally I think I was very good. Probably the beginning of the third set was the hardest part of the match. But after that I thought I had to be more aggressive, try to push a lot, try to go to the net, and it was good.”

As for Hurkacz, who won his first title of the season at Halle in June, he will be going after his second career ATP Masters 1000 title after winning last year at the Miami Open.

“The finals are always very tricky,” Hurkacz admitted. “The best players from each half are playing there. So, obviously whoever I’m going to play will have a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence. It’s just going to be a super tough battle.”

Around the National Bank Open

Hubert Hurkacz and Daniel Evans competed in both the singles and doubles semifinals on Saturday. After their respective singles matches, they faced each other in doubles. Evans and John Peers of Australia beat Hurkacz and fellow Polish Jan Zielinski, 7-5, 4-6, 10-4, by winning nine of the final 10 points in the match tie-break. Both Hurkacz and Evans were trying to become the first double champion in Canada since John McEnroe (with Peter Fleming), who won both titles at Toronto in 1984.

In the first doubles semifinal, No. 3 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Neal Skupski of Great Britain advacned to their eighth doubles final of the season after defeating Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, both of Germany, 3-6, 6-2, 10-8. The winners clinched a match tie-break for the second straight day.

Koolhof and Skupski will compete for their second ATP Masters 1000 title of the season and sixth title overall. Earlier this year, they won the Madrid Masters crown.

By the numbers

• There have been five first-time ATP Masters 1000 champions in the last 13 tournaments in 2021-22. They include: Hubert Hurkacz, Miami, 2021; Stefanos Tsitsipas, Monte Carlo, 2021; Cameron Norrie, Indian Wells, 2021; Taylor Fritz, Indian Wells, 2022; and Carlos Alcaraz, Miami, 2022.

“Quotable …”

“The level is so close now between the guys ranked from Top 10 to Top 40, so it maybe looks on paper like some of the guys are below, but the level is really incredible. Every singles match is fifty-fifty.”

– World No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, commenting Friday on the shakeup of the National Bank Open draw after five of the top eight seeds lost before the quarterfinal round, include top seed Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the second round to Nick Kyrgios.