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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, September 24, 2021

 
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Hubert Hurkacz stopped Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-3 to advance to his fourth ATP semifinal of the season at the Moselle Open.

Photo credit: Getty

Probing passes from Andy Murray stretched Hubert Hurkacz at net until the top seed slid a reflex volley winner to quiet the challenge.

Pressed into taxing positions, Hurkacz produced creative solutions mastering Murray 7-6(4), 6-3 to advance to his fourth ATP semifinal of the season at the Moselle Open.

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This highly-anticipated Metz meeting pitted two players with similar styles—both possess versatile two-handed backhands, can play sharp angles and sting the first—and the pair took the court wearing similar blue shirts and dark shorts. Ultimately, Hurkacz won by the identical score he delivered defeating Murray in Cincinnati last month.

The biggest difference in their second career clash was Hurkacz earned more free points on first serve—he hit 13 aces to Murray’s 3 and saved all 4 break points he faced—and was willing to move forward and finish some crucial points at net.




The 13th-ranked Hurkacz recognizes opportunity—he snapped a six-match losing streak at Wimbledon sweeping Roger Federer and toppling second-ranked Daniil Medvedev for his first major semifinal appearance—and he was better in bigger moments today.

Playing for his first ATP semifinal since his inspired run to the 2019 Antwerp title, Murray had multiple break point chances in the eighth game but could not break through.

Murray hit a deep return provoking the error for a second break point. The former No. 1 had a good look at a Hurkacz second serve but pasted his signature shot, the backhand, into net. Murray came right back lifting an exceptional backhand lob right into the corner then charged forward knocking off a smash for a third break point only to see Hurkacz save it with a sharp serve.

The 6’5” Pole moves well and owns sharp racquet skills on the stretch. Hurkacz showed it all fighting through a tough hold to even after eight games.

Serving at 5-6, Hurkacz hammered an ace out wide to force the tiebreaker.

A high forehand volley and deft drop shot put the Pole up 5-2 in the tie breaker. Hurkacz caught a couple of breaks to seal a one-set lead on his third set point. A Murray forehand approach scraped the tape giving Hurkacz time to set up and repay the favor with a backhand pass down the line that skimmed the tape and skipped over Murray’s outstretched Head racquet. That pass put Hurkacz up a set after 67 minutes.

It also helped relax Hurkacz and empowered him to swing a bit more freely.

Poking a backhand pass down the line, Hurkacz drew a netted volley breaking for a 3-1 second set lead. Deadlocked at 30-all, the Miami Open champion slashed successive aces—his sixth and seventh of the day—confirming the break for 4-1.

The 2020 Paris Indoors doubles champion showed his fine feel in the frontcourt with a slick backhand stab volley. Hurkacz pumped his 10th ace out wide holding for 5-2.

Throughout the match, Murray continued to scramble and scrape and hit some fine angles. The three-time Grand Slam champion cracked a forehand pass to save a second match point and bumped a backhand down the line to save a second match point.




On his third match point, Hurkacz threw down a heavy serve to seal the win and raise his 2021 record to 27-16. Murray should draw positive vibes from a week that saw him push into the quarterfinals for the first time this year.

Hurkacz moves on to face German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Gojowczyk halted American Marcos Giron’s Metz burst with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory. Gojowczyk belted 12 aces and won 32 of 37 first-serve points in a one hour, 23-minute win.

 

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