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Hubert Hurkacz in 2021: Unexpected but deserved entry into the elite

2021 was a breakout season for Hubert Hurkacz, who became the highest ranked Polish man in ATP singles ranking history

Hubert Hurkacz, 2021 by Tennis Majors Hubert Hurkacz, 2021 by © Aurelien Morissard / Panoramic

For Hubert Hurkacz, 2021 has been a breakthrough season. The Pole went from being a solid top 40 player at the start of the season to a bona fide top 10 player. From reaching the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time and then reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and from lifting his first ATP Masters 1000 Series event to qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals, it was a season of firsts for the 24-year-old. At the start of the season nobody would have put him in the bracket of up-and-comers battling it out for the biggest titles – by the end of the year he was established in the Top 10.

  • Hurkacz’s Ranking at end of 2020: 34
  • Hurkacz’s Ranking at end of 2021: 9
  • Hurkacz’s Win-loss record in 2021: 36-23
  • Hurkacz’s Titles : 3

Best result for Hurkacz at a Grand Slam: Wimbledon semi-finals

Until Wimbledon, Hurkacz had never reached the second week at a major in 12 main draw appearances. That all changed when he stepped on to the All England Club grass courts. After wins over Lorenzo Musetti, Marcos Giron and Alexander Bublik, Hurkacz came from two sets to one down to beat second seed Daniil Medvedev in a rain-interrupted five-set match over two days.

In the quarter-finals, Hurkacz played the match of this life to oust eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 6-3, 7-6, 6-0 to become only the second Polish man in history to reach the last four at a Major.

“It’s super-special for me, to play on this court. Playing against Roger, when you’re a kid, it’s like a dream come true,” Hurkacz said after his win.

Hurkacz’s best performance: Winning the Miami Masters with an incredible run

Hurkacz also broke new gruond at the ATP Masters 1000 Series level. Prior to this year, he had reached the last eight at a Major only once in his career. But Hurkacz played some of his best tennis in March to lift the Miami Open. His incredible run included wins over Denis ShapovalovMilos Raonic, Stefanos Tsitsipas (favourite of the tournament at that moment), Andrey Rublev, and Jannik Sinner and helped him break into the top 20 for the first time in his career.

The win made him the first player from Poland to win an ATP Masters 1000 series event. “Hopefully with my game I can inspire some people in Poland,” Hurkacz said. “Hopefully they enjoyed it there.”

With the breakthroughs of Iga Swiatek, who won the French Open women’s singles title in 2020, and Hurkacz, Polish tennis should see a major boost in the coming years.

Hurkacz’s worst moments of the season: Six-match losing streak after winning Miami

Like many players before him, Hurkacz took some time to settle down after winning his first big title – the Miami Open. The Pole had to endure a six-match losing streak; losing in the second round in Monte Carlo, followed by opening round losses in Madrid, Rome, Roland-Garros, Stuttgart and Halle. All of those losses came to players ranked lower than him but the Pole did manage to recoup his losses with his excellent run at Wimbledon.

Hurkacz off the court

Away from the courts, Hurkacz loves the thrill of fast cars, and also enjoys spending time in nature – whether its the desert in Indian Wells or the snowy mountains back home in Poland – as evidenced from his social media feed.

Hurkacz on Hurkacz : “A great season”

Hurkacz ended the season on a strong note by reaching the semi-finals of the Pairs Masters and extended Novak Djokovic to a third set tiebreaker. That result earned him the final spot in the eight-man ATP Finals in Turin, Italy – something that he was not even aiming for at the beginning of the season.

“The beginning of the year, probably not. I didn’t think about it. Then later in the year after winning the Miami title, obviously that put me higher in the Race and then suddenly you think yeah, you might have a chance to qualify,” Hurkacz told the ATP Tour. “Probably since then maybe I was thinking a little bit I would have a chance.”

The beginning of the year, (…) I didn’t think about Turin.

Hubert Hurkacz

Although he went 0-3 in Turin, Hurkacz was mighty pleased with his 2021 season as he told the media in Turin after being knocked out in the round-robin stage.It was great, a great season.

“I think it was great, a great season. I learned a lot. So that’s very big for me, the improvement that I made and also like the opportunities o be here, to compete here, and also like learning what I need to work on. Nice to still have a lot of things to improve in my game. Definitely that.”

Tennis Majors’ view : Hurkacz ready to stay

In 2021, Hurkacz has shown that he has the tools and mindset to win on the biggest stages in tennis and compete against the top players. The critical part will be to see if he is able to maintain that momentum in 2022 or if he will have a difficult time following his breakout season with another one. Indications are that the Pole is here and ready to stay for a while in the top 10 and won’t be an easy draw for any of his opponents in 2022.

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