One hour. One groundstroke winner. One new trophy for the mantlepiece.
Hubert Hurkacz defeated Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4 within the Miami Open last on Sunday with a intelligent neutralising technique focussed on locking the younger Italian within the “backhand cage” and throwing away the important thing. Hurkacz claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title by placing a mesmerising quantity of balls within the court docket and letting Sinner swing for the fences and miss.
Take in. Repel. Defend. Counter. Straight out of a Rocky film.
The match was 56 minutes outdated when Hurkacz hit his first groundstroke winner to carry up set level within the first set. It was a Serve +1 forehand winner struck on the service line from a weak return of serve. It was an outlier. Hurkacz would end the match with 10 rally winners whereas hardly going for any. Satirically, Sinner completed with 12 rally winners whereas attempting to mild it up on virtually each level.
Hurkacz’s main technique was to play as a lot backhand-to-backhand tennis as doable via the Advert court docket. The next Hawk-Eye graphics clearly present the engine room of Hurkacz’s victory.
2021 Miami Last: Backhand Path
Hurkacz hit 56 per cent of his rally backhands crosscourt to the outer third of the court docket. Sinner hit 57 per cent again crosscourt, making backhand-to-backhand exchanges via the Advert court docket the dominant rally course for the match. Hurkacz had little or no curiosity going backhand line to Sinner’s potent forehand, solely hitting 13 per cent of his backhands to this particular location.
In some ways, Hurkacz’s four-part technique was a throwback to how matches historically unfolded in our sport.
Half 1 – Goal the opponent’s backhand with a barrage of groundstrokes. Make it “overheat”.
Half 2 – The opponent’s forehand is pressured to go for an excessive amount of to cowl for the ailing backhand.
Half 3 – The server now feels stress to finish factors early, and consequently misses an excessive amount of.
Half 4 – The opponent loses their method mentally, unable to formulate a successful sport plan.
Chip away on the backhand first. Then the forehand and serve consequently self-destruct. When you attain the thoughts, it’s sport over. Sinner stated as a lot in his post-match interview.
“Effectively, I made some unforced errors. I made just a few or a few errors within the tie-break. Then I used to be not serving effectively, particularly at first of the second set, and never returning deep sufficient,” Sinner stated.
2021 Miami Last: Forehand Path
The Hawk-Eye graphic above provides one other layer of readability to Hurkacz’s “backhand cage” masterplan. Hurkacz directed 54 per cent of his forehands extensive to Sinner’s backhand within the Advert court docket, which is sort of the identical because the 56 per cent from his backhand wing to the identical location. Sinner’s main goal was to hit his forehand extensive at Hurkacz’s forehand, the place he went 52 per cent of the time. However as an alternative of entertaining forehand-to-forehand exchanges, Hurkacz consistently modified course and made Sinner must hit one other backhand.
Sinner struck 31 per cent of rally forehands from contained in the baseline, however simply 15 per cent from the backhand wing got here from contained in the baseline. Sinner’s forehand was extra deadly, which is why Hurkacz restricted publicity to that facet. Total, each gamers hit extra backhands from the again of the court docket, which proved a key benefit for the Pole.
Hurkacz Rally Pictures
• Forehand = 47.7% (137)
• Backhand = 52.3% (150)
Sinner Rally Pictures
• Forehand = 47.9% (142)
• Backhand = 52.1% (154)
Sinner’s common groundstroke velocity was 76 miles per hour, which was significantly tougher than 70 miles per hour from Hurkacz. The way you hit the ball issues. The place you hit it issues extra.
– All graphics because of Hawk-Eye Improvements/ATP Media