Hubert Hurkacz comes through epic battle with Thanasi Kokkinakis

Novak Djokovic Hubert Hurkacz

Former champion Hubert Hurkacz saved five match points on his way to an incredible 6-7(10), 7-6(7), 7-6(6) win over Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday evening at the Miami Open.

In what is now the longest three-set match of 2023, Hurkacz saved three match points in the second-set tie-break and another two in the decisive set.

It took Hurkacz three hours and 31 minutes to battle beyond the unseeded Australian.

“It’s tough to explain for me. I knew I was playing good tennis, I mean Thanasi [was] as well,” Hurkacz declared after his win in Miami.

“I was just trying to stay in there and compete, play some good shots. Either way, if I won or I lost — obviously I wanted to win so, so much — but either way [I] should have been happy with myself.”

Hurkacz pulled off some remarkable shots during his win, including a devastating return on a well-struck slice serve into the body from Kokkinakis.

Explaining that audacious up the line winner, Hurkacz said that he was expecting Kokkinakis to go for something on his second serve.

“Just felt he was going to go for another one,” Hurkacz said.

He added that those ‘stolen points’ are what helped him come out on top in this clash.

Both players were dialled in on their service games with each belting more than 20 aces in the match and neither being broken more than once.

When Hurkacz faced his fifth match point and saved it with an ace the writing was on the wall.

After saving five match points, Hurkacz would close out the contest at his first opportunity with his staunch defence forcing an error out of the Australian.

Earlier in the day, Daniil Medvedev made quick work of Roberto Carballes Baena whom he dispatched 6-1, 6-2.

Medvedev decided to break out a few drop shots, learning from facing Carlos Alcaraz last week.

“After my match with Carlos I thought I needed to use that shot more,” Medvedev joked. “I’ve always liked drop shots but it’s not a weapon in my game that I’m going to use 50 times a match. You need to have confidence in the shot and today it worked pretty well.”

Sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime tread a path somewhere in between as he dug deep to scratch out a 7-6, 7-6 win over Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro.

The Canadian felt that he was the better player across the contest.

“After the first set, I felt a little bit better,” said Auger-Aliassime after his win. “I was giving myself chances… He came up with some good serves and great shots every time, so [I just had to] keep driving, keep trying, keep moving forward and keep staying positive. I think that was the key today, to just stay strong mentally.”

He missed some chances to close out the match in a more clinical fashion but he progresses nonetheless.

“I was serving pretty good,” said Auger-Aliassime.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t close it out at 6/4 [in the second-set tie-break] with a double fault but honestly, throughout the match, I felt good. Considering the conditions too. It was super windy, so to serve like this, on the big points, that was key today.”

Round of 64 results

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x8) bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7 (10/12), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (8/6)

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) bt Ben Shelton (USA x32) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1

Christopher Eubanks (USA) bt Borna Coric (CRO x17) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Grégoire Barrère (FRA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR x11) 6-3, 6-2

Quentin Halys (FRA) bt Alex De Minaur (AUS x15) 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (10/8)

Mackenzie McDonald (USA) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA x19) 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/5)

Alex Molcan (SVK) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN x28) 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-1, 6-2

Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x5) bt Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8)

Francisco Cerundolo (ARG x25) bt Aleksandar Kovacevic (USA) 6-4, 6-4

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) bt Daniel Evans (GBR x23) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2

Frances Tiafoe (USA x12) bt Yosuke Watanuki (JPN) 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4

Karen Khachanov (RUS x14) bt Tomás Etcheverry (ARG) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Jirí Lehecka (CZE) bt Lorenzo Musetti (ITA x18) 6-4, 6-4

Christian Garín (CHI) bt Sebastián Báez (ARG x27) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) walkover

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