Hurkacz Causes Big Upset, Beats Nishikori In Dubai
Pole to meet Tsitsipas for second consecutive week
Hubert Hurkacz caused a major upset on Wednesday afternoon at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when he recorded the first Top 10 victory of his career (1-2 overall) for a place in his first ATP Tour quarter-final.
The big-serving Pole grew in confidence against top-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori, winner of the Brisbane International title last month, and triumphed 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes at the Aviation Club in Dubai.
“It's [a] huge win for me because it's the first Top 10 win,” said Hurkacz. "Maybe I was better prepared mentally for this battle today. It gives me huge confidence. I'm going to try to keep going forward.
“I was trying to fight for every point. Kei is an unbelievable player. I had to serve well. That gave me some opportunities to attack after the serve [and] also win [a] couple of easy points. Against such a great player, it's very important to have some free points. I also think I was returning quite well… I'm very happy with the win today.”
Hurkacz, who hit 31 winners and converted six of his seven break point opportunities, will next play fifth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who cruised past Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-3, 6-1 in 57 minutes. Tsitsipas leads Hurkacz 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, including a 6-4, 6-2 win last week in Marseille and en route to the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
Nishikori served for the first set 5-4, but Hurkacz broke and won eight of the next nine points to take the 41-minute opener — with Nishikori hitting a forehand approach into the net. Nishikori took a 4-0 lead in the second set, but missed out on four set point chances when serving at 5-2. At 5-5, Hurkacz led 30/0, but proceeded to lose the next seven points and Nishikori wrapped up the set with a smash winner.
The 22-year-old Hurkacz powered his way through the decider, breaking for a 3-1 lead with a big backhand down the line that Nishikori could not scramble back. The Pole broke for the sixth time overall, when Nishikori over-hit a forehand long of the baseline (his 32nd error). Nishikori drops to 12-3 on the season, which includes a title run at the Brisbane (d. Medvedev) and a semi-final exit at the recent ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. to Wawrinka).
“He played well today,” said Nishikori. “I didn't serve well when I wanted to… It happens. That cost me some important points. I think he really played well in the important games.”
In the second match of the day on Centre Court, Gael Monfils recorded his 11th match win of the season by knocking out Cypriot wild card Marcos Baghdatis, the 2016 finalist, 6-3, 6-2 in 65 minutes. Monfils captured the Rotterdam crown (d. Wawrinka) less than two weeks ago. He next meets Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis, who advanced to his first ATP Tour quarter-final since October 2018 at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow (l. to Medvedev) after a 6-4, 6-1 win over Denis Kudla of the United States.