Exclusive: Interview with Hubert Hurkacz

Hubert Hurkacz at the Auckland Open
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Hubert Hurkacz had appeared to be in complete control of his quarterfinal match at the ASB Classic against Feliciano Lopez, but the Pole squandered six match points in the second set. However, he managed to right the ship in the decider, winning it 6-4 to book his place in the semifinals, where he slipped to a straight-sets defeat against Benoit Paire. After his quarterfinals win, the Pole took the chance to speak to Last Word On Tennis about his victory and his goals for the upcoming 2020 season.

“[After losing the second set, I was] just trying to stay positive. Keep being aggressive. He played really well in the tiebreak. I had chances. But it happens, so I just tried to compete in the third one.” said Hurkacz. 

The Pole will now head to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open, where he will face a qualifier in the first round. But six-time former champion Roger Federer is a potential third-round opponent for the big-hitting Hurkacz.

One rather suspects that the 22-year-old’s meteoric rise up the rankings has a lot to do with the hiring of Craig Boynton at Indian Wells last year as his full-time traveling coach. Boynton’s resume to date has been impressive: coached Jim Courier for two seasons, Mardy Fish for one year, and recently John Isner for three and a half years. At the end of the 2018 season, Hurkacz’s year-end ranking was at 87, and after Boynton’s appointment, the Pole ended 2019 at 37 in the world.

“It’s tough to say his [Boynton] coaching philosophies are. But [what I can say is] he’s an amazing guy, he’s helping me a lot. He knows a lot about the game. The tactics and so we’re working on everything.”

Hurkacz has already started off his 2020 season as a potential dark horse for the Majors. He defeated both Borna Coric and Diego Schwartzman in the ATP Cup. Before pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by defeating Dominic Thiem in an entertaining three-setter. All opponents that were ranked higher than him.

“It was great at the ATP Cup. It was a lot of fun. The crowd was amazing. We were so happy that a lot of Polish people came and brought an amazing atmosphere. So it was a lot of fun there.”

This will be Hurkacz’s second year playing regularly on the ATP Tour. His biggest achievement to date is winning his maiden title in Winston-Salem last year defeating Benoit Paire in the final. His goals for 2020 are simple. Simply just to build upon his 2019 season and transition that into the 2020 season.

“Just to improve my game and gain a lot of experience. It’s only my second year on tour. So [I’m] looking forward to it. It’s going to be a new experience.” said the Wroclaw native.

Unknown to many, the 22-year-old comes from a family of athletes. Hurkacz’s mother was a junior tennis champion back in Poland, both his uncles were tennis players, whilst his grandfather was a volleyball player at an international level. When asked whether how that has shaped him to be the athlete he is today, the Pole said “The [sporting] genes, the motivation in the family, the love for the sport. I think they have helped me a lot.”

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