World number one Ashleigh Barty resisted the reverse trend at the Miami Open on Thursday, advancing to the women’s final as second-favorite Stefanos Tsitsipas was knocked down by Hurbert Hurkacz. Australian Barty returned 27 winners in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine to return to the title match of a tournament she won in her last edition in 2019. But Greece’s Tsitsipas tried to explain an “auto-explosion” after wasting a considerable lead in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final loss to 26th seed Hurkacz, from Poland – the latest in a series of upheavals that saw male favorite Daniil Medvedev and No.3 Alexander Zverev lose along with No.2 women Naomi Osaka.
Tsitsipas admitted it was an overwhelming result in a tournament where the absences of superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his own recent solid form seemed to give him a chance to shine.
“I felt like it was my chance,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt like there was more space for me to show something bigger. It’s a very disappointing loss.
“It was there, everything was under control. And suddenly, I don’t know, self-explosion.”
Tsitsipas left the tournament after a tense encounter which saw the 22-year-old Greek sentenced to a time violation after the second set for taking too long to change his shirt and headband.
The world number five was also allegedly involved in a tense exchange with officials before the game after refusing to share a golf cart with Hurkacz used to transport players onto the field.
However, there was no indication that the incident had disturbed Tsitsipas from the start, as he dominated a one-sided first set to win 6-2.
Tsitsipas then quickly beat Hurkacz early in the second on the way to a 2-0 lead.
But just as it appeared the match was heading for a quick conclusion, Hurkacz finally found his lineup.
After avoiding two break points at 15-40 in Game 3, Hurkacz continued to hold on, then broke to tie the set at 2-2 – a missed opportunity that demoralized Tsitsipas.
Another break in service in Game 8 saw Hurkacz win 5-3 and he made no mistakes in his next service game, winning the set with a tilted shot that left Tsitsipas rushing towards the net.
Barty little by little
The momentum was with Hurkacz in the third and he took control with a break in the fifth game, which would ultimately prove to be decisive when the Pole closed out the win.
Tsitsipas’s exit leaves Russia’s fourth seed Andrey Rublev, who faced Sebastian Korda later Thursday for a semifinal berth, as the top men’s seed in the prestigious ATP Masters and WTA tournament.
On the women’s side, Barty has grown steadily since she saved a match point in her first victory against Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova.
“In every game, I felt like I did something a little better, and that’s all you can ask for,” said Barty, who has chosen not to travel outside of it. Australia last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and pulled out of the Doha and Dubai tournaments in March with a leg injury.
She received treatment for an abdominal problem between sets on Thursday but vowed she would be “right as the rain” for a title showdown on Saturday against eighth seed Canadian Bianca Andreescu or 23rd seed Maria Sakkari from Greece – who shocked Osaka in the quarter-finals.
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