Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz reaches the final of the National Bank Open
Simon Servant, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Tennis matches are usually full of important moments that can serve a player’s cause. Pole Hubert Hurkacz took advantage of two of these on Saturday.
Hurkacz scored two timely service breaks to come from behind and defeat Norway’s Casper Ruud 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, earning his ticket to the National Bank Open final.
Hurkacz, seeded eighth in Montreal, broke Ruud in the second game of the second set and the first game of the third set to build pace and slow his opponent’s.
The first big chance came as Ruud had just won 16 straight points on his serve and after he broke the Pole to take a 1-0 lead in the second set. Hurkacz gave himself two break points and he resumed this lost game following an unforced error by his vis-à-vis.
“Casper was playing really well and I thought I just had to hang in there. I was trying to find a way to get back into the game, explained Hurkacz, who got another break to win the second set. Casper was the better player for the first half of the match, but I wanted to stay combative and I looked for chances by being incisive in the exchanges.
Then Hurkacz rocketed ahead in the third inning when he saw the ball hit the top of the net before landing Ruud’s side. The Pole may have apologized, the damage was done and his rival did not recover.
“Before I got that point, I had to get there and I think I had good game reads and made the right decisions. I was gaining momentum. It was a lucky shot at an important time, but it happens sometimes. My combativeness paid off on that,” analyzed Hurkacz.
With these two breaks, Hurkacz eliminated Ruud in just over two hours, winning his fourth consecutive game in three sets since the start of the week. He reached a first final this season at a Masters 1000 tournament.
Hurkacz, who is also set to take part in the doubles semi-final with compatriot Jan Zielinski, is now awaiting the winner of the duel between Briton Daniel Evans and Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. This confrontation will take place on the center court of the IGA stadium on Saturday evening.
Against Ruud, Hurkacz hit 18 aces to take his tally to 77, which is the highest among any player in the tournament.
Ruud (No. 4), who easily beat Quebec’s Félix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals on Friday, was the highest-ranked player still in contention for the title in Montreal. He was trying to reach the final of a Masters 1000 tournament for the second time this season, after losing in Miami.
« It’s frustrating to lose when you have the lead and feel like you’re in control, » Ruud said. Hubert had some really good returns to break me at the start of the second set. I made some stupid decisions and I have to take the blame for it. Hubert is a very good hard court player and it was surprising that I won the first set. I didn’t expect to be up 7-5, 1-0 after trailing 0-3 in the first set. He played at a level that I couldn’t maintain.