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Hubert Hurkacz acquires new dimensions, which is exactly what he must do

Hubert Hurkacz has gone past the fourth round at only one major tournament, last year’s Wimbledon championships. He clearly fits the profile of a player who can get hot in a best-of-3-set format but struggles in best-of-5. In 2021, Hurkacz began to become a noticeably better player at 1,000-point tournaments. He won Miami, but he also made the quarterfinals or better at three other 1,000-point events. In 2022, Hurkacz has reached the quarters or better at four more 1,000s, this time at a few clay events in addition to Miami and this National Bank Open in Montreal.

Hurkacz remains a volatile player whose best stuff comes and goes, but the volatility is decreasing, as is the variance between one tour event and another. This is what it means to create a higher floor. At 1,000-point tournaments, Hurkacz’s normal result and standard keep rising. He will play for the Montreal championship on Sunday after handling Casper Ruud in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Making the title match is a big deal, but what’s an even bigger deal for Hurkacz is how he booked his Sunday lunch date with destiny.

As noted above, Hurkacz is a volatile player. He can blow hot and cold. He can be very hit-or-miss. What stands out about his trip to the final is that he took a few punches along the way to Sunday. He lost a set to Nick Kyrgios but shrugged it off in Friday’s quarterfinals. He lost the first set to Ruud, an in-form player, on Saturday afternoon, and patiently battled back.

Hurkacz does not lack talent. He can crush the ball. His height and wingspan enable him to cover a lot of real estate. His long, lean body is made for tennis. Learning how to compete well is the long-term process Hurkacz is trying to master.

Hubi should gain a lot of confidence not from winning in itself, but from overcoming obstacles against the two most recent runners-up at 2022 major tournaments.

As Hurkacz gears up for an important U.S. Open, he might have more tools in his toolbox. At the very least, he knows where that box is located.

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