Hurkacz Halts Harrison

Hurkacz Halts Harrison

By STEVE DORSEY 

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Hubert Hurkacz put the brakes on Christian Harrison’s remarkable storybook run at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com Tuesday afternoon and in the process took another step forward in his quest to claim his second career ATP Tour title.

Hurkacz advanced to his second Tour final with a hard-fought 7-6(4), 6-4 victory on the Stadium Court at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in a match that featured outstanding shot-making by both players. He will face the winner of tonight’s other semifinal match between Cameron Norrie of Great Britain and American Sebastian Korda.

Harrison’s setback in the first semifinal of his ATP Tour career ended a captivating run here that included a win over top-seeded Cristian Garin after going through qualifying to earn a berth in the main singles draw. Despite falling short of reaching his first ATP Tour final, the 26-year-old American’s five singles wins here this week will pay huge dividends for him in the world rankings. He arrived here ranked No. 789 and now is projected to improve on that by an astounding 444 points.

“That’s crazy. It’s definitely the most points I’ve ever gotten in a tournament by a lot,” said Harrison, who has persevered through eight various surgeries since 2009, never giving up on his desire to continue competing as a professional. “I’m just going to keep trying to play events and then keep trying to pile on, and hopefully by the end of the year I can see where I’m at and start getting back into the bigger tournaments.”

Hurkacz complimented Harrison’s effort, but the world No. 35 Pole made a couple more shots at key junctures of both sets to end Harrison’s run. Hurkacz, the No. 4 seed here this week, made numerous superb returns and had outstanding court coverage for a 6-foot-5 player.

The first set was indicative of how closely matched the two players were. There were 81 points in the set that needed a tiebreaker, with Hurkacz winning 41 to Harrison’s 40. Neither player broke the other’s serve until the seventh game of the second set when Hurkacz broke to go up 4-3. They then traded two more breaks to make it 5-4 before Hurkacz held to close out the set and match.

“Christian was playing very well,” Hurkacz said of Harrison’s performance. “He was serving tricky. He was slicing and kicking and then placing the ball really well. So I was struggling with that, especially the first set.”

Harrison, who also has a doubles semifinal with his brother as his partner tonight, was equally complimentary of Hurkacz’s effort.

“I’m a big fan of his game. I have a lot of respect for him,” Harrison, the second-lowest-ranked semifinalist in Delray Beach Open history, said. “It was a great match, so I have a lot to be proud of right now.”

Hurkacz, who received a first-round bye in the 28-player field, has won all three of his matches here this week in straight sets. If he can duplicate that on Wednesday, he’ll claim the Delray Beach title.

“It’s a great start to the year,” Hurkacz said. “I’m looking forward to playing the final.”

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