Hurkacz's Gritty Advance, Felix Zooms Past Rune in Basel

Poland's Hurkacz demonstrates sheer resilience in Basel's thrilling semifinal

by Zain ul Abedin
Hurkacz's Gritty Advance, Felix Zooms Past Rune in Basel
© Lintao Zhang/Getty Images Sport

World No. 11 Hubert Hurkacz has sustained his impressive performance into the late season, surmounting Ugo Humbert with a gritty 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) triumph on Saturday, propelling him into the pinnacle match of the Swiss Indoors Basel.

This pivotal victory has successfully catapulted the Polish star past Taylor Fritz, situating him at the ninth position in the season-long Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin. He now stands a mere step away from Holger Rune and the coveted slot for the elite eight-man Nitto ATP Finals.

Hurkacz's journey to victory was anything but straightforward. He faced a precarious moment when he couldn't serve out the match at 5-3 in the decisive set, followed by a nail-biting scenario where he squandered two match points on Humbert's serve in the subsequent game.

The Pole demonstrated resilience and determination, needing an additional three match points in the tie-break to secure his spot in the final finally.

Hurkacz's Ace Quest

Reflecting on his quarter-final performance, Hurkacz unleashed an impressive 23 aces against Dutch contender Tallon Griekspoor.

However, in his face-off against the left-handed Humbert, he managed to clock in just eight, albeit crucially landing one on match point. As he edges closer to the season's conclusion, Hurkacz is on the verge of hitting a monumental milestone, aiming to surpass 1,000 aces in a single season, a feat he has never achieved.

Having clinched the Rolex Shanghai Masters title earlier this October, Hurkacz is on the hunt for his third trophy of the year, his second at the ATP 500 level following his success in Halle in 2022 and what would be the eighth of his career.

The final will see Hurkacz square off against Canadian powerhouse Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has been experiencing a resurgent week, outclassing Holger Rune with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 victory. This marked a significant turnaround for Auger-Aliassime, who had a rocky start to the season, and he is now poised to compete for his fifth tour-level title.

As the competition heats up, Rune exits Basel with a 215-point lead over Hurkacz in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. A victory for Hurkacz in the final could dramatically narrow this gap to a mere 15 points. Despite the mounting pressure, Hurkacz is striving to maintain focus, emphasizing the importance of drowning out external distractions to enhance his performance on the court.

"I try to shut down the noise and do my job, because ultimately if you can do that then you give yourself the best chance," Hurkacz earnestly shared, encapsulating the resilient mindset that has brought him this far and which he hopes will carry him through to victory in the showdown in Basel.