Casper Ruud let slip the first game of the deciding set on Saturday at the National Bank Open. Hubert Hurkacz took advantage – sealing an important break when his return hit the net cord and ran off – before rolling to victory.
Hurkacz secured a spot in the final with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 win at IGA Stadium. He will then face the winner of the evening semi-final between the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta and the Briton Daniel Evans.
The six-foot-five Hurkacz, Poland’s No.8 seed, wanted to set the tone in the third set after leveling in the match. However, Ruud took a 40-0 lead before errors started to creep into the Norwegian’s game.
An overhead smash helped Hurkacz back to two. On break point, the happy result at the net gives him a lead that he will not let go.
“It was a fluke in an important moment,” Hurkacz said. “Sometimes it happens. But I was trying to be aggressive at the time, so I was happy that it paid off.
“Obviously I don’t mind touching that chord, but it’s probably better to have a winner. It’s okay,” he added with a smile.
Hurkacz had an 18-8 ace advantage and completed the victory in two hours two minutes.
“I think I found a good rhythm and was making the right decisions,” he said.
Hurkacz threw his big serve – he had five aces in the opening game alone – but also kept Ruud guessing throughout the match. His serve and volley game worked well and he occasionally used an effective floating drop from the backcourt.
He came to the net frequently to put pressure on and it paid off with an early break. Hurkacz then tied for an early 3-0 lead.
The near-full crowd, eager to see a competitive game between the two remaining seeds in the draw, did their best to cheer Ruud on. The Norwegian responded with four straight points to move up the board and followed with his own break.
He added another break at 5-5 – sealing the point with a forehand winner – and won the first set in 42 minutes.
“I didn’t expect to be in the 7-5, 1-0 position when I was down 3-0 in the first set,” Ruud said. “But he (made) a few sloppy mistakes and then he kind of erased them and played some nice winners and some nice plays.”
Hurkacz, who needed three sets in each of her singles wins, would go the distance again on a hot, sunny afternoon.
He started dictating the game more often in the third set and connecting with more winners. A sizzling two-handed crossback backhand sealed another break for a 3-0 advantage and he was on course for a second career appearance in a Masters 1000 final.
Hurkacz beat Italian Jannik Sinner in the Miami final last year.
Ruud, who dispatched Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime to the quarter-finals, beat Hurkacz in their only previous fourth-round encounter at Roland Garros earlier this year.
The evening semi-final between Carreno Busta, the world No. 23, and Evans, 32nd, was their first career meeting. Neither player has made it to a Masters 1000 final.
The final of the $6.57 million ATP Tour event was scheduled for Sunday.
The last unranked player to win this tournament was Argentinian Guillermo Canas in 2002 in Toronto. Reilly Opelka was not seeded when he reached last year’s final, but he lost to number one seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
In doubles, the third-seeded duo of Neal Skupski of England and Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands beat the German pair of Kevin Krawietz and Andrea Mies 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 .
Hurkacz and Jan Zielinksi of Poland were scheduled to face Evans and Australia’s John Peers in the doubles semi-final.