Poland's Hubert Hurkacz celebrates with the winner's trophy after winning against Andrey Rublev at the Shanghai Masters tournament in Shanghai on Sunday. AFP
It was the big-serving Pole's second Masters triumph, to go with the one he won in Miami in 2021, and a seventh ATP title in all.
"It was such a battle, especially emotionally," the 16th seed said after surviving a nail-biting third-set tie break in front of the watching Roger Federer. "I had a match point and Andrey hit an amazing serve and then he had a match point and then I had some match points. "It was back and forth and such a tricky match."
Hurkacz had Rublev under pressure early and broke the Russian with a vicious whipped forehand that Rublev had no chance of returning to lead 4-2 in the first set.
The 25-year-old Rublev let out an angry roar in response and then Hurkacz easily held his own booming serve to go up 5-2. The Pole Hurkacz came into the final with a tournament-leading 77 aces and Rublev could not handle his blistering serve.
Hurkacz sealed the first set in 31 minutes -- and it was inevitably with another ace. He sent down 21 over the course of a topsy-turvy final.
It was the first set that Rublev had dropped in Shanghai. But Rublev, who won the Monte Carlo Masters in April, struck back to break his opponent's torpedo of a serve for a 2-0 lead at the start of the second set. A rejuvenated Rublev kept the 26-year-old Hurkacz at bay to send them into a deciding third set.
Hubert Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev with their trophies. Reuters
Rublev on Saturday described his angry outbursts in his semi-final win over Grigor Dimitrov as "ugly" and he was struggling again with his emotions at times. In contrast, Hurkacz went about his business with quiet determination.
Serving at 4-5 in a gripping third set, Rublev saved a match point — having been booed by the crowd moments earlier for aggressively approaching and shouting at courtside photographers. The battling duo went into the tie break, where Hurkacz finally prevailed.
Hurkacz said that self-belief carried him through, even when he was down in the tie break and staring defeat in the face. "It was one of those matches and I kept believing and I am super happy with how I managed at the end," said the Pole.
Rublev will now focus on trying to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin. He said he knew to expect Hurkacz's big serve, but stopping it was another matter. "The way he was serving was unreal," said Rublev, who was nevertheless pleased with his week as a whole.
"Last month I felt I was doing everything right and thought it was only a matter of time that I could show this at a tournament."
Despite the confrontation with the photographers, which earned him a ticking-off from the umpire, the seventh-ranked Russian felt he mostly kept his temper in check compared to a day earlier. "In general I was able to handle my emotions much better," he said.
Holder Rafa Nadal will miss the French Open after failing to regain full fitness from a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open in January, the 14-times Roland Garros winner said on Thursday, adding 2024 could be the final year of his career.
"The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I'm hoping for a favourable outcome," she said. "It's going to stink for a while, but I'll fight with all I have got." Navratilova noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during November's WTA Finals in Fort Worth.
Sania and Bopanna were beaten 7-6(2), 6-2 by Brazilians Stefani and Matos, who were playing in their first-ever Grand Slam final.
"I really work hard to get to this Court as this was my first appearance. I have had very good preparation for the matches. I still feel that I have more stamina and improving with every match. I hope this preparation will continue,” the Czech star said.
Both teams will first meet in two 50-over warm-up games on Dec.25 and 27 respectively, and is followed by three T20Is scheduled to be played on Dec.29 and 31, plus on Jan.2 at Sharjah International Cricket Stadium.
Leaders Al Wasl will look to consolidate their position on the top of the table when they take on rivals Al Wahda in their Round 10 match of the Pro League on Friday.
CEO Mauro Gianetti emphasised the team's role in driving positive social impact and supporting the UAE's decarbonisation goals through a comprehensive sustainability programme.