Hubert Hurkacz, luxury substitute at the Tennis Masters

Hubert Hurkacz during an exhibition against Taylor Fritz, at the Masters in Turin (Italy), November 14, 2023.

A quick turn and then gone: such is the fate promised to Hubert Hurkacz at the Tennis Masters. While the ATP Finals began on Sunday, and two of the first three group matches have already been played, the Pole (9th) will enter the fray on Thursday, November 16 at 2:30 p.m. He will face number 1 world Novak Djokovic, without hope of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Ninth in the “Race”, the ranking which takes into account the results of the calendar year in tennis, the native of Wrocklaw had narrowly failed to obtain his ticket for the prestigious end-of-season meeting, which brings together the eight best players of the year. First substitute, he went to Turin (Italy) – where the tournament has been played since 2021 – on Saturday November 11, while the participation of Stefanos Tsitsipas (6th) seemed uncertain. If the Greek finally played his first match, defeated by the Italian Jannik Sinner (4ᵉ)he then gave up against the Dane Holger Rune (8th) after only three games, injured in the back, and gave up the rest of the tournament.

By taking his place for the final day of the “green” group, Hubert Hurkacz is playing, of course, only one meeting, but this is not without challenges. In the event of victory, he would add 200 precious points to his ranking, more than reaching the final of an ATP 250 (150 points) or the fourth round of a Grand Slam (180 points). Furthermore, already ured of receiving the tidy sum of $162,750 by participating in the match, he would pocket an additional 390,000 if he were to win against Novak Djokovic.

More than 1,000 aces this season

The Serb plays big. After beating Holger Rune (8ᵉ), he lost against Jannik Sinner (4ᵉ) and no longer has his destiny in his hands. But he can still take a big step towards the semi-finals: only a victory in three sets for Rune against Sinner and a percentage of games won over all three matches lower than that of these two players would prevent him from doing so. . Conversely, if he wins in three sets or suffers a second setback, he will then have to count a victory for Sinner against Rune, who face each other on Thursday at 9 p.m., to see the last four.

In six confrontations, Hubert Hurkacz has never won against the “Djoker”. But the tall “Hubi” (1.96 m) has a few things to show for it. His size, first of all, allows him to deliver aces (winning serves) at all costs – he is the one who has hit the most in 2023 (1,031 in 68 matches) – and the surface, considered to be “the fastest of the season” by the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz (2ᵉ), should suit his powerful game. Author of an average season, he also remains on good momentum. After winning the Masters 1000 in Shanghai in mid-October, he then reached the final of the ATP 500 in Basel (Switzerland) and the quarters at Paris-Bercy.

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Qualified for the Masters in 2021, where he lost in his three group matches, the discreet Pole, appreciated by his peers, was able to turn back the central court of the Pala Alpitour on Tuesday November 14. After Tsitsipas’ withdrawal, he, the American Taylor Fritz (10th), second substitute, played an exhibition match at the end of which he promised to a fan that he would give him his racket if he beat Novak Djokovic. Here’s one that’s going to keep your fingers crossed.

Laura Pottier

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