Hurkacz epic beats Kokkinakis, Medvedev drives through
Hubert Hurkacz saved five match points as he defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in a three-and-a-half-hour epic, while Daniil Medvedev kicked off his Miami Open bid with an easy win on Saturday.
Hurkacz was pushed to the limit by Australia’s lucky loser Kokkinakis before edging away in a 6-7 (10/12) 7-6 (9/7) 7-6 (8/6) win.
The Aussie had shown his skill by sparing six set points as he won the first set tiebreak and Hurkacz, the 2021 Miami champions, had three match points in the second set tiebreak and two more in the last set breaker .
“It’s hard for me to explain. I was just trying to stay there and compete, play some good shots,” said Hurkacz, the eighth seed at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kokkinakis was 6-4 on serve in the tiebreak of the final set, but Hurkacz produced an impressive winner down the line and that shot finally turned the tide decisively towards the Pole, who went on to grab the next three points to end the contest .
The three-hour, 31-minute competition was the longest best-of-three ATP match of the year so far.
In contrast, Indian Wells runner-up Medvedev barely worked a sweat as he defeated Spanish clay-court specialist Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2 in just 62 minutes.
The Russian’s loss to Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final had ended his 19-game winning streak, but he was absolutely dominant as he notched 18 winners against the Carballes Baena’s five.
Medvedev capitalized on the drop shot Alcaraz successfully used against him last week and joked that he was trying to emulate the world number one.
“I thought I needed to use that shot more often. I’ve always loved drop shots, but it’s not a weapon in my game that I’ll use 50 times per match,” he said.
– I’m looking forward to –
“You have to have confidence in the shot and today it worked pretty well,” he said.
“I’m happy with my first game, my solid performance and looking forward to the next games,” he added.
Medvedev became the first player to have 25 wins on either the ATP or WTA tours this season.
French players enjoyed surprise victories, with Quentin Halys saving three match points as he defeated 18th Australian Alex De Minaur 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (10/8 ) defeated.
Gregoire Barrere, ranked 65, defeated Britain’s 12th in the world Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-2. The deranged Norrie received medical attention late in the second set.
Barrere meets Christopher Eubanks next after the American clinched the biggest win of his career so far by defeating 17th-placed Croatian Borna Coric 6-3 4-6 6-2.
Eubanks, 26, who is ranked at No. 119 in the world, bounced back from a first set in which the Croatian appeared to be in control of the home crowd.
Another American, Mackenzie McDonald, won a thriller against 23rd-placed Italy’s Matteo Berrettini by breaking both tiebreaks and surviving two set points in game 12 of the second set.
The home fans who stayed long were treated to rising star Francis Tiafoe, who struggled through an inspired performance by Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki.
Tiafoe, the 12th seed, lost the first set in a tiebreak before winning a second set and eventually establishing his dominance to win 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6- 4.
24-year-old Watanuki, ranked 123rd, used his powerful forehand to great effect, firing 55 winners and blasting Tiafoe away from the baseline.
“He played without light and I was behind a lot,” Tiafoe said.
“He played a great match tonight so give respect where respect is due. He was so hot but I was hoping his level would drop in brief moments and I did a good job of taking advantage of it,” he added.
Local hero Ben Shelton, on the other hand, was disappointing. Despite some exciting attacks, he was beaten 6:4, 3:6, 6:1 by the composed 34-year-old Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Czech Jiri Lehecka’s impressive form continued as he defeated 18th seeded Lorenzo Musetti.
The 21-year-old, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal in Australia, triumphed 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round of a Masters 1000 event for the first time.