Hurkacz Holds Off Bublik In Mesmerising Marseille Semi-Final
Hubert Hurkacz booked his place in the Open 13 Provence final with a straight-sets victory on Saturday, but not before the Pole and his opponent Alexander Bublik had treated the Marseille crowd to a richly entertaining semi-final clash at the indoor ATP 250.
Top seed Hurkacz prevailed 6-4, 7-6(4) in a match defined by plenty of creative and, at times, outrageous shotmaking. With both players also dialled in on serve, it was the World No. 11 who raised his level at crucial moments to book his spot in the championship match against Benjamin Bonzi. (Watch Hurkacz v Bonzi, Sunday 2pm CET/8am ET)
The highlight of the 94-minute clash was Hurkacz’s tweener pass from way behind the baseline to bring up 15/40 on Bublik's serve in the third game of the second set. Although the Kazakhstani went on to hold in that game and ultimately saved all seven break points he faced in the second set, Hurkacz progressed to his seventh tour-level final with a rock-solid showing in the tie-break.
“I’ve known Sasha since I was 11 or 12 years old, so we’ve been through a lot, even played some doubles as juniors," said Hurkacz post-match, when asked about his on-court chemistry with Bublik. "He’s such a fun guy, and he brings a lot of great energy to the sport. He can produce some unbelievable shots. It’s nice that we were playing juniors and now playing at a high level, semi-finals at an ATP event, so it’s really amazing.
“Usually Sasha hits those kinds of shots," added Hurkacz of his showstopping tweener winner. "This time I was able to complete this kind of shot against him.”
In amongst the cat-and-mouse exchanges, Hurkacz struck 22 aces and won 82 per cent (41/50) of points behind his first serve. The Pole, who is chasing his first ATP Tour title since he triumphed on the grass in Halle last June, saved all three break points he faced as he improved his ATP Head2Head lead against Bublik to 5-1.
“At the end of the week it’s a dream to have a chance to lift the trophy," said Hurkacz, who battled to three-set wins against Leandro Riedi and Mikael Ymer in his opening two matches in Marseille. "It’s a goal, so I’m really happy that I’ve played some good tennis here.”
In the day’s second semi-final, the World No. 60 Bonzi ended the run of #NextGenATP star Arthur Fils with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. The 26-year-old clinched the sole break of serve in each set to seal an 84-minute triumph and reach his second ATP Tour championship match.
Bonzi won 88 per cent (28/32) of points behind his first serve to see off Fils, who has established himself as a breakout star in 2023 after reaching the semi-finals in both Montpellier and Marseille. However, the 18-year-old carved out just one break point, which Bonzi saved, in his maiden ATP Head2Head clash with his countryman.
After reaching the final in Pune in January and now equalling that run in his hometown tournament, Bonzi now owns a 10-6 tour-level record for the year. His run in Marseille so far has propelled the Frenchman 15 spots to No. 45 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.