Hurkacz Puts Perfect Finals Record On The Line
Hubert Hurkacz is one of the shyest, most soft-spoken players on the ATP Tour.
You wouldn’t know it by the way 25-year-old from Poland drives. (He was once spotted behind the wheel of a gleaming-yellow McLaren 720S in the Southern California desert, and says if he hadn’t gone into the tennis business he might have pursued a career in auto racing.)
Or the way he serves — a stroke that has fast become one of the loudest, engine-revving weapons on the circuit. As we’ve seen this week at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, it’s a shot that has helped him out of many a sticky situation. In fact, all four of the World No. 10 Pole’s victories in Montreal, including his 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of fourth seed Casper Ruud in Saturday’s semi-final, have gone the distance, his serve often the difference-maker.
He smacked 23 aces in his opener against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 16 against Emil Ruusuvuori, 20 against Nick Kyrgios, and another 18 against Ruud, giving him a tournament-leading 77 (and counting) on the week.
Oh, how those free points can come in handy in a pinch.
“He’s got one of the best serves in the world,” said Kyrgios, a power-server himself, but now winless in two ATP Head2Heads with Hurkacz in 2022.
Hurkacz is now into his second ATP Masters 1000 hard-court final, having won the first in Miami in 2021 (def. Jannik Sinner, 7-6(4), 6-4). He comes in as the favourite against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, who has climbed seven spots this week to No. 16 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 31-year-old Spaniard is into the first ATP Masters 1000 final of his career.
Hurkacz is a perfect five-for-five in finals coming into Sunday’s title tilt.
“I just try to give myself the best chance,” said the eighth seed. “I just try to compete as hard as I can, be as well prepared as I can. I was fortunate to win the first few finals. But tomorrow is going to be a new match. It’s going to be a very tricky one.”
Carreno Busta didn’t drop a set all week until Brit Daniel Evans pushed him to three in a thrilling 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-2 semi-final. The two-time US Open semi-finalist, raised on clay, continues to show his considerable all-surface skills. It’s taken the Spaniard, who turned pro back in 2009, some time to reach this stage, but as he asked after his escape against Evans, “Why not now?”
“It’s probably one of the worst years of my career, with not really good results,” he laughed. “I did make the final in Barcelona, the semi-finals in Bastad, but now, I don’t know why, this week the level was unbelievable. I’m excited. It’s a big opportunity for me to know how to do it. For me, for my confidence, it’s very important to go on court tomorrow and try to do my best, to be aggressive and play my tennis.”
The finalists have split their two previous encounters, both coming in 2021 on hard courts: Carreno Busta prevailed in a Round-of-16 matchup in Cincinnati, 7-6(2), 6-3, while Hurkacz answered in the Metz final, 7-6(2), 6-3.