Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz defeated defending champion Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the semifinals of the Miami Masters 1000 on Friday and will be the second youngest tennis player to fight for this prestigious trophy.
Alcaraz, 18 years and 11 months, dethroned Hurkacz by 7-6 (7/5) and 7-6 (7/2) and will play on Sunday in his first Masters 1000 category final against the Norwegian Casper Ruud, also new to games of this magnitude. Only Rafael Nadal, also a Spaniard, reached the Miami final in 2005 at a younger age than Alcaraz, when he was 18 years and 10 months old.
The new star of Spanish tennis continues to tear through the circuit at break neck speed. Two weeks ago he played his first Masters 1000 semifinals in Indian Wells but lost in a thrilling duel against his idol Nadal. On Friday Alcaraz, number 16 in the ATP, gave another sample of his immense potential when he defeated Hurkacz, number 10, less than 20 hours after his battle against the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, also ending with two tie breaks.
Hurkacz, on the other hand, came in the game with alot of confidence after eliminating the Russian Daniil Medvedev, favorite for the title in the absence of Novak Djokovic and Nadal the day before . “He played well here and he was the defending champion, but I played a very good match myself,” said a beaming Alcaraz to the Miami crowd, which has been captivated by his amazing tennis.
Facing an Alcaraz, Hurkacz kept control in the first set but was unable to get away from the Spaniard. With a 3-4 lead, the Pole had his only break point of the set but Alcaraz saved it with a subtle drop shot at the net.
Then it was Hurkacz, who resorted to his devastating serve (7 aces) to escape two break balls from Alcaraz. In one of the most unusual actions of the tournament, Alcaraz conceded to repeat a point won because the chair umpire made a mistake in pointing out a double bounce on a shot by Hurkacz.
The Pole was grateful for the gesture of his rival, who was then down 5-6. The set was decided in a thrilling ‘tie breaker’ in which Alcaraz, again under pressure, came back from a 3-5 lead of the Pole, who threw the racket to the ground in frustration.
In the second set it was the Spaniard who took the initiative and Hurkacz had his big chance in the eleventh game, when he missed two break balls. Again on edge during the tie break, Alcaraz took a 4-1 lead and finally unsettled the Pole with several exquisite drop shots.
On Sunday, Alcaraz will have the opportunity to become the youngest champion in the 37-year history of the tournament, as Nadal lost in the 2005 final to Roger Feder.