Hubert Hurkacz qualified for the ATP final of the season on Friday after giving up a tough challenge from the Australian craftsman James Duckworth 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5 in the Paris Masters quarterfinal. The 24-year-old Pole will be looking for one better than his compatriot, 2012 finalist Jerzy Janowicz, in Paris. He faces a huge obstacle to even reaching the final while playing world number one Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semifinal. The Serbian world number one looked in ominous form as he fell 6-4, 6-3 past Taylor Fritz in just 73 minutes.
Fritz looked appropriately disappointed as he went to the net to shake hands.
The American thought with his recent run of good form and Djokovic’s return to the circuit after a seven-week break that he could record his first victory in his fifth encounter with him.
Hurkacz may have more in the locker room than the American’s one-dimensional game as he showed him in a breakout season.
“It’s crazy,” Hurkacz said, referring to his Masters qualification. “The match was so difficult today, knowing that I had to win the match.
“Of course, it also increased the pressure on me a little bit.”
Hurkacz looked good in control as he relaxed through the first set 6-2.
However, Duckworth, 55th, tied the game with an impressive performance in the draw – his fingers waving to the crowd after taking it 7/4.
– ‘Very big for me’ –
The seventh-seeded Hurkacz put considerable pressure on Duckworth in his first service match of the second set before the Australian took it back and forth after eight minutes.
Duckworth took Hurkacz 5-5 before the Pole held off, but it was the Australian who came under pressure in the next game and saved two game points.
However, Hurkacz seized the match at the third opportunity, the Wimbledon semi-final raised his arms and then struck the air in delight.
“You dream about it as a kid, and you know, when you grow up, you don’t know if it’s going to be possible, or if you’m going to be good enough,” Hurkacz said of winning the ATP final. .
“To achieve this thing now is very big for me.”
Djokovic took his seven-week break when his dreams of a Grand Slam whip were shattered by Daniil Medvedev in September’s US Open final.
Medvedev, the Paris title holder, also hopes to win the world number one spot from Djokovic by the end of the season.
The 25-year-old Russian will play the surprise package, Frenchman Hugo Gaston, in a quarter-final later on Friday.
Should Gaston – who have won seven games in a row from 5-0 to beat the second set and win the match against Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz on Thursday – beat Medvedev, Djokovic would be assured of finishing the year as number one for a record close. seventh time.
The other quarter-final throws last year’s finalist, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, against Norway’s six-seeded Casper Ruud.
The match brings together the only two players who have won five titles each this year, which propelled Ruud to a first ATP final ever for a Norwegian player.
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