Boynton On Hurkacz’s Under-The-Radar Miami Run: ‘The Pressure Is Off’
Albert Einstein might have been right to say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insane. But Einstein was never a coach on the ATP Tour, where ‘sticking to the process’ has been a key part of Craig Boynton’s game plan at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
His player, Hubert Hurkacz, had made a dream start to the 2021 season after lifting his second ATP Tour trophy at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. But the Pole struggled to back up that result in the weeks that followed, only winning back-to-back matches at one of his next five tournaments.
For Boynton, it was an admittedly tough sell to tell his player to stay the course, and follow the game plan that previously took him to a Top 30 breakthrough and an ATP 250 title. After second-round exits in Rotterdam (l. Tsitsipas) and Dubai (l. Shapovalov), the pair sat down to outline their plan heading into the year's first ATP Masters 1000 event.
“I had to talk to Hubi a couple of days in a row before the tournament [and told him], ‘You just have to let the things happen,’” Boynton told ATPTour.com. “‘Just let them happen, because you’ve been putting in the work.’
“Because we have been working hard. I don’t think we’ve had a day off, aside from a travel day, in maybe six weeks. So we’re really putting in the work, and he’s really doing the things on a day-to-day basis. But you’ve just got to let go and let it come to you. Let the improvements come, let the work happen.
“You don’t sit in front of a microwave and scream at it to hurry up, it cooks when it cooks. Things happen when they happen.”
In Miami, 26th seed Hurkacz passed an early test against Denis Kudla, and earned a confidence-boosting dose of revenge over Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6(6). After coming back from a set down to 12th seed Milos Raonic, Hurkacz quietly booked his spot into his second ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.
“When you hit a bit of a skid, it’s kind of easier to just brush it off. Because you know what you don’t want to do, you know what’s not working,” Boynton said.
That ‘skid’ also had the effect of helping to deflect attention off of Hurkacz, and onto other 25-and-younger players making their own breakthroughs in Miami.
“The pressure is off a little bit, so to speak. You’re not really on anybody’s radar, no one really has any expectations,” Boynton said. “So you can just kind of hunker down and get in your own little space to work on a couple of things. When you start to do those things well, and it leads to doing a couple of other things well, that’s when you start creating momentum.”
Nowhere was this more evident than in the 26th seed’s come-from-behind stunner over second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas – another player who defeated Hurkacz in the build-up to Miami. This time, he toppled the Greek 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to extend his unbeaten run in Florida this year to eight matches.
“His mental fortitude during these matches has been terrific. That’s really what we’ve been working on a lot,” Boynton said. “He’s really made the right choices, and he’s really been resilient – as you could see today [against Tsitsipas]. That he didn’t get off to the most flying of starts would be an understatement, but he just stuck with it.
“He fought and overcame a huge deficit, and was able to work his way back into the match, which was just wonderful to see.”
Boynton will be looking for that same mental clarity and fight as Hurkacz targets his first ATP Masters 1000 championship match in Miami. He awaits the winner of fourth seed Andrey Rublev and #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda.
The 24-year-old owns 1-0 ATP Head2Head records against both men, with Hurkacz defeating Korda in Delray Beach earlier in the year.
“When you’re able to just keep things simple mentally and just focus on a couple of small things, then those things that you’re working on will start coming good,” Boynton said. “And then you get momentum, and a couple of other things are coming good. You fight your way through a couple of matches, and now you’ve got momentum and confidence.”