Hubert Hurkacz was determined to take the positives from his debut match at the Nitto ATP Finals despite defeat at the hands of Daniil Medvedev.
From the round-robin format to the small but elite field, the season-ending finale can be an overwhelming experience for a first-time competitor. But Hurkacz did not appear overawed by the occasion, taking the first set before Medvedev, the defending champion, turned things around to win 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.
“Definitely I played on a decent level. I can do even better than this,” Hurkacz said.
“I still have a chance to qualify from the group, it’s great. I’ll just keep fighting and then keep believing in myself.”
Both players had deep runs at the Rolex Paris Masters – Hurkacz reaching the semi-finals, Medvedev finishing runner-up – and had clearly brought their form and confidence to the Nitto ATP Finals’ new home in Turin. The first singles match of the tournament was heavily dominated by serve, with Hurkacz unable to create a break point on Medvedev’s serve while the second and third sets were decided by a single early break for the Russian.
Medvedev commented on the speed of the court at the Pala Alpitour in his post-match interview, and Hurkacz was quick to agree. “Here is way faster [than Paris],” he said.
“I mean the surface could be close but the balls make a huge difference, so it’s quite fast here. Daniil was serving great, I was serving decent apart from two games, it’s quite quick here.”
He added: “I think it’s just getting used to the surface, plus we both have decent serves, so maybe we both didn’t return as well as we hoped – me, for sure. When there’s a rally we can play some really good rallies, that’s what Daniil likes to do.”
Hurkacz dropped just five points behind his first serve in the first two sets, but his first-serve percentage dropped noticeably after winning the first-set tie-break. The disappointed Pole paid tribute to Medvedev’s greater consistency across the three sets after the Russian improved to 2-1 in their head-to-head.
“Daniil is an amazing player, he plays great tennis throughout the whole match. He doesn’t have dips in his game, that makes him such a tough opponent.”
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Miami Open champion Hurkacz has already amply demonstrated his resilience in 2021, bouncing back from a six-match losing streak in the midst of the season to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals and ultimately qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.
“I’ll just try to stay positive,” Hurkacz vowed. “OK, I lost this match, but I’ll think about the positives and what I can do better and prepare for the next one.”
Hurkacz can take comfort from the fact that Medvedev himself went 0-3 on his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals before winning his next six matches at the season-ending championships. But the Pole will aim to turn things around a little faster. He will face Alexander Zverev or Matteo Berrettini in his next match on Tuesday in what could be another big-serving duel.