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SF Preview: Hurkacz, Ruud Look To Seize The Moment
It took a 20-ace barrage for eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland to bring white-hot Aussie Nick Kyrgios’ streak to an end, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-1, on Friday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers. Beginning with his run to the Wimbledon final, Kyrgios had won 15 of his past 16 matches, including nine straight and the title tilt in Washington.
But the extended match play may have caught up to the 27-year-old in IGA Stadium against Hurkacz, who also got the best of him during a trophy surge earlier this summer in Halle. (Asked if he had a better read on Kyrgios than his ATP counterparts, Hurkacz smiled, “Probably not.”)
The Montreal draw blew wide open for Hurkacz, with five of the top eight seeds, including World No. 1 and defending champ Daniil Medvedev, gone before the quarter-finals. However, the 23-year-old Pole isn’t at all surprised by the shakeup.
“The level is so close now between the guys ranked from Top 10 to Top 40, so it maybe looks on paper like some of the guys are below, but the level is really incredible,” said the 25-year-old, through to an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final for the fourth time. “Every single match is fifty-fifty.”
Hurkacz’s semi-final opponent is the highest seed still standing, Casper Ruud of Norway, who is up to No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and poised to reach a career-high No. 4 should he win Saturday.
Ruud, who played the role of spoiler against hometown favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals, claimed a four-set affair against Hurkacz in their only previous encounter en route to the Roland Garros final in June, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Ruud is getting more comfortable on tennis’ biggest stages by the day. This is already his third Masters 1000 semi-final of the year.
“Sometimes it’s a bit of coincidence and the draw, the players you like to play or not. But this is a very good result for me,” said the 23-year-old, who already owns three titles on the year (Buenos Aires, Geneva, Gstaad). “I didn’t think it was too likely to happen being that it was my first hard-court tournament back. But I’ve been playing great since the first point of the first match until the last point today, so I’m very happy with the level that I’m able to put out.”
Both players have had success on hard courts at the ATP Masters 1000 level. Ruud played his way into the Miami Open final in April, while Hurkacz won the same event in 2021 (def. Jannik Sinner, 7-6(4), 6-4).
“It’s going to be a tough one. Hubert is always dangerous, a good player on any surface — especially on hard courts,” said Ruud. “He knows what it takes to win a Masters 1000 event. He’s back in a semi-final, and he’s looking sharp, looking strong.”
Hurkacz leads the four semi-finalists in the INSIGHTS: In Attack metric, playing 24.4 per cent of his shots in attack this week. But Ruud paces the pack in Steal rate, winning 40.6 per cent of points from defence. (Learn more about INSIGHTS.)
You might have pegged three-time Slam champ Andy Murray or 2021 Indian Wells titlist Cameron Norrie, not 39th-ranked Daniel Evans, to be the last Brit standing in Montreal, but it’s the 32-year-old veteran who is into his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final after a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 reversal-of-fortunes against American Tommy Paul.
Evans, who’ll face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta for the first time, is clearly relishing the opportunity before him. He’s well aware of what’s at stake.
“Listen, anybody who tells you they don’t think about the position in the tournament they are, they’re lying. You take care of business, but it’s always in the back of your head what part of the tournament you’re in,” he said. “It’s what you play tennis for. It’s why I’m out here fighting, trying each day with the practice, with the fitness.”
Carreno Busta, a 7-6(4), 6-1 winner over Great Britain’s Jack Draper in the quarters, is into his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final — all three coming on hard courts.
“It’s very important for my confidence, for myself,” said Carreno Busta, who hasn’t dropped a set all week. “I’m playing very solid. I know tomorrow I have the opportunity to be in the final. I need to be 100 per cent again. I need to recover as much as I can. Evans is having an incredible week also, so we’ll see. But I have another opportunity to be in a final.”
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