Hurkacz To Face Paire In First ATP Tour Final
Poland's Hubert Hurkacz will play for his first ATP Tour title on Saturday at the Winston-Salem Open. The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier beat 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 behind two breaks of serve on Friday evening to reach his maiden ATP Tour final.
"It feels great. It was a long day but it was a really nice day for me," said Hurkacz, who, like the other semi-finalists, played two matches in one day because of Thursday rain. "The goal for me with Craig [Boynton], my coach, and my team is to improve every day, to be a better player. I'm very happy that we are able to improve our game, and obviously playing in the final is a huge success for me."
The 22-year-old Pole broke Shapovalov at 4-4 in the second set and served out the match to love. Hurkacz landed only 47 per cent of his first serves, but won 80 per cent of his second-serve points. Shapovalov saw all four of his break points in the fourth game of the second set, but Hurkacz erased them all.
"That was a crucial moment, [when] I stayed positive and held my serve there. So then the pressure was on his side," Hurkacz said.
#NextGenATP Shapovalov was also trying to reach his first ATP Tour final and fell to 0-2 in semi-finals this year (Miami). Hurkacz will try to become the first Polish tour-level winner since Wojtek Fibak captured the WCT Chicago title on 5 December 1982.
"I'm happy that Polish tennis is improving... I hope I'll play a good match tomorrow," Hurkacz said.
He will meet top seed Benoit Paire, who will put his perfect ATP Tour final record in 2019 on the line. The 30-year-old Frenchman sprinted to the finish in his semi-final against American Steve Johnson 1-6, 6-0, 6-0.
The veteran won 76 per cent of his first-serve points and saved six of eight break points to improve to 3-0 in ATP Tour semi-finals this year. It will be his first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Hurkacz.
“First set I was not feeling very well, and Stevie was playing good. It was not easy. But after I was feeling better, I served better. So it was important for me to stay with myself. I was moving really well. I'm really happy with my win today,” Paire said.
The Frenchman has won three clay-court ATP Tour titles: the 2015 Swedish Open in Bastad and two earlier this year in Marrakech and Lyon. He'll be going for his first hard-court title and first in the U.S.
Did You Know?
Hurkacz is the first Polish player to reach an ATP Tour final since Jerzy Janowicz at the 2015 Open Sud de France in Montpellier (l. to Rosol). He also could become the season's 14th first-time champion.