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 2014 Winston-Salem Open (l. to Rosol). He also could become the season’s 14th first-time champion.