The love for Sinner and the fear of Hurkacz are the feelings that unite all Italians right now. A few hours before the start of the final in Miami which will see them as protagonists, an unbearable anxiety runs through the Peninsula. This morning walking through the Spanish Quarters of Naples we intercepted the following conversation between two street vendors:
“Anto, or Russ won last night?” I fell asleep in the middle of the first set. ”
“But when May !! He won the Polish. Chill has more consonants than pil n’copp a capa ”
“Oh bad! It scares me and iss ”
“Gennà is calm. Jiannik so magna comm a nu babba. Don’t hold back from squealing in the body of an Eternal Father”**
Whoever has passed the door remembers people walking on Sunday afternoons through the streets of the city with their ears glued to the radio that broadcast the program “All football minute by minute” and can perhaps imagine an anxious Bertolucci who during the chronicle of the final exclaims: “Sorry Pero, I’m interrupting you to report that the chair judge has awarded a warning and Hurkacz“. Unlikely to happen, especially since Hurkacz will never take a warning.
On the other hand, it is certain that for the second time a Polish player will play a final of a Master 1000. Poland is a land of consonants but not as much of tennis players. From the beginning of the Open Era to today seven have entered the top 10. In order of ranking:
- Fibak n. 10
- Janowicz n. 14
- Hurkacz n. 37
- Kubot n. 41
- Luczak n. 64
- Majchrzak n. 83
- Przysiezny n. 57
Qualitatively, better tennis players:
- A.Radwanska n. 2
- Swiatek n. 15
- U.Radwanska n. 29
- Grzybowska n. 30
- Domachowska n. 37
- Linette No. 42
- Olsza n. 72
From next Monday Hubert Hurkacz will be number 25 in the world in case of defeat and number 16 in case of victory. It will therefore improve on the 28th, best ranking achieved in February 2020. A result that was difficult to imagine until a few years ago. Hurkacz entered the top 200 for the first time in 2018, at the age of 21. From that moment on he never stopped: top 100 in September 2018 and number 37 at the end of 2019, the year in which he won his first ATP title in singles in Winston Salem. Thirty-fourth player in the world at the end of 2020. 2021 starts in the best way for him in Delray Beach where he takes his second ATP title. The Australian Open was very bad: out in the first round against Mikael Ymer.
In subsequent tournaments he plays badly and no one puts him among the favorites on the eve of the Florida tournament. Is a mistake; in the first round he beats Kudla and to follow Shapovalov-Raonic-Tsitsipas and Rublev, respectively number 11-19-5-8 of the world. Reflect those who believe that this edition of Miami is a masked 250: many champions have won Grand Slam events overcoming less demanding opponents.
The only thing Miami seems to have in common with a 250 (ante Covid) this year is the prize pool: winning it two years ago, Federer put a check worth over a million dollars in his pocket while the winner of this edition will have to settle for 250,000 euros. But we will talk about this another time.
Now back to Hurkacz, for friends Hubi, nickname that reminds someone …
It is not easy to write something about him that is outside a commentary on a game of his; under the media profile for now Hubi is the anti-character par excellence. It’s true that it’s up to good journalists to create the characters, but he would need a Pulitzer Prize. The Polish journalist Tomasz Tomaszewski tried to give us a hand, interviewed by the director.
He told us about when he first saw him play at 15 and was impressed by the serve movement. ‘at the Sampras‘, of the fact that as a child he did not seem to have a particularly strong talent for sport and also as a junior he did not achieve memorable results (even though he was still number 29 in the world). Tomaszewski then confirmed a rather evident feeling, namely that Hubert is a very reserved but genuine and helpful guy, as much with the Polish press as with his staff and with the ball boys. We were also surprised to learn that he has been converting to vegan cuisine for a couple of years; our cultural myopia did not allow us to imagine that an athlete almost two meters tall fed mainly on vegetables and legumes. Our demerit.
His coach is American Craig Boynton, who has previously coached champions such as Courier, Fish and Isner. Currently, in addition to Hurkacz, he follows Steve Johnson. In an interview released in these hours to the ATP site he stated that, after the unhappy performances in Rotterdam and Dubai, he worked a lot on the mental attitude of his client: “I talked to Hubi two days in a row before the tournament started and just told him to let things happen because the work done was enough. We have been working hard without a break for the past six weeks except for travel… but then you have to let things come by themselves, let the improvements come. You don’t sit in front of a microwave and shout at him to hurry up, but expects the food to be cooked in the right time. Things happen when they have to happen“. Very Zen. We will soon find out who will cook who.
Sinner and Hurkacz have never played opposite each other but often side by side in doubles; the last occasion was in Dubai where they reached the quarter-finals. Sinner near the net still struggles to find the correct position and the not excellent touch sensitivity does not help him to remedy the position errors. Hurkacz is more comfortable; it is no coincidence that in his palmares he also boasts a victory in doubles in the only final played; he took it in 2020 in Paris-Bercy paired with Augier-Aliassime, in his first overall victory in his career (even if in singles he has yet to unlock).
From a statistical comparison it emerges that the Polish serves a little better than the Italian but responds much worse: in the ATP ranking reserved for the performance of players serving in the last 52 weeks, the Pole is 38th while Sinner is 56th; to the answer 18th Sinner and 51st Hurkacz. Before Friday we would have written that in the baseline dribble Sinner is clearly superior to Hurkacz above all by virtue of his superior lateral mobility; after seeing the Pole in action against Rublev we continue to believe that Italian is superior but not so sharply.
On Sinner’s exceptional mental strength finally, rivers of words were spent, but Hurkacz does not seem to be outdone: fragile players do not win three finals on as many occasions as he did. Conclusion: two players “on fire”That they will have their first big chance but probably not the last and not even the biggest. Now the word is up to the rackets. We cowardly do not feel like making a prediction. We limit ourselves to saying that the first Pole to reach a final of a Master 1000 was Jerzi Janowicz in 2012 in Paris-Bercy. Lost in two sets.
** ”Antonio, did the Russian win last night? I fell asleep in the middle of the first set ”
“But when ever !! The Pole won. Those have more consonants than hair on their heads ”
“That rogue! It scares me ”
“Don’t worry Gennaro. Jannik eats it like a baba. It has a reverse that is the envy of the Eternal Father ”
(We thank Martina for the essential linguistic advice)
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks