Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players and tournaments. This story was originally published on 24 August 2019.
The 22-year-old became the first Pole to capture a tour-level crown since Wojtek Fibak’s WCT Chicago title run in 1982. Hurkacz broke serve on five occasions throughout the two-hour, nine-minute clash to improve his tour-level record to 23-18 in 2019.
“That is a lot of time [without a Polish champion]. I am so glad that I have been able to win an ATP Tour event,” said Hurkacz. “I hope many more guys will join me soon and that I will win some more. It means a lot to me and I am glad that I won this tournament here.”
The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier became the 14th first-time champion on the ATP Tour in 2019 after improving his record against French players this year to 5-1. Players trying to win their first ATP Tour title were 14-17 in championship matches in 2019 through Winston-Salem (13-11 in all of 2018).
“It is a huge win for me today. Benoit is an amazing player so it is a really great win for me,” said Hurkacz. “[It was a] great match. I had to fight a lot but I am so excited that I lifted my first trophy here.”
In this week last year, Hurkacz was placed No. 109 in the ATP Rankings. The World No. 41 achieved his career-high No. 40 ATP Ranking on 12 August and is projected to reach a new career-high when the latest standings are released on Monday.
After coming from a set down to defeat Duckhee Lee in his opening match, Hurkacz defeated four consecutive seeded opponents to take the title in North Carolina. The third seed beat 16th seed Feliciano Lopez, 10th seed Frances Tiafoe, second seed Denis Shapovalov and top seed Paire to claim the trophy.
After trading breaks early in the first set, Hurkacz played with consistency from the baseline and anticipated well to claim consecutive games for a 4-1 advantage. The 6’5” Pole earned three straight service points from 15/30 to take the opener after 35 minutes.
Paire grabbed the crucial break of the second set in the eighth game, moving up the court and capitalising on errors from his opponent to serve for the set. The Frenchman forced a decider with his sixth ace of the set before a slight delay to play due to rain.
Despite the rain, the pattern of the opening two sets was followed in set three as both players broke serve in the opening stages. But it was Hurkacz who played his best tennis in the latter stages of the match, breaking serve to love with deep returns before moving a game away from victory by dictating play with his serve and forehand. The Pole converted his first championship point on serve as Paire fired a cross-court forehand into the net.
“I started to attack a little more [in the third set]. I was too defensive in the second set and Benoit started to play better. I was just trying to keep playing better and focussing on the game plan.”
Paire was bidding to improve to 3-0 in tour-level championship matches this season. Earlier this year, the 30-year-old triumphed at clay-court events in Marrakech and Lyon.
”For me it was a good week,” said Paire. “Honestly, I could have lost in [my second match] so it was really good to be in the final.”
Hurkacz earns 250 ATP Ranking points and collects $96,505 in prize money. Paire receives 150 ATP Ranking points and $56,000.
Did You Know
The 15 first-time ATP Tour champions in 2019 was the most since 15 in 1999.