Hubi survives Lehecka scare in Rotterdam

AN EPIC third set tiebreaker saw fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz survive an almighty scare from Czech talent Jiri Lehecka to reach the Round of 16 at the ABN AMRO Open in Rotterdam. The pair went to back-to-back tiebreakers lasting 20 points apiece, before the Pole finally saluted, 6-3 6-7 7-6.

In a match that lasted two hours and 18 minutes, both Hurkacz and Lehecka were unwilling to take a backwards step, going blow for blow and combining for 32 aces in the match. It was the first time the big serving duo had gone head-to-head on the ATP Tour.

The fourth seed took out the first set 6-3 as he went on to only drop two points off his first serve and convert the only break point opportunity in the set. While Hurkacz served six aces, Lehecka was yet to get on the board, but he soon found his range in the second set.

Powering home nine aces and winning a massive 29 of 31 points off his first serve, he joined Hurkacz in producing dominant service games. Neither player came close to drawing a break point opportunity, and as both went toe-for-toe over 12 games, it went down to a tiebreaker.

Despite Hurkacz having his chances to close out the match in straight sets, Lehecka would not be denied, getting up 11-9 in the second set tiebreaker to level the match at a set apiece. The set gave an indication of what was to come, with the players again saving all the possible break point chances (Hurkacz three, Lehecka one).

The Czech was arguably the better performed player throughout the last two sets, and even though he would ultimately go down 11-9 in the third – courtesy of a match-winning ace for Hurkacz – there was plenty to take away for the world number 32.

Each of the last two sets were decided by an 11-9 tiebreaker and the statistics suggest Lehecka might rue a missed opportunity when he double faulted on match point. The Czech hit 42 winners to Hurkacz’s 35, while only having one additional unforced error (25) through the match.

Hurkacz will now face off against Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor who played a near-identical match to the fourth seed, defeating Italian Lorenzo Musetti 3-6 7-6 7-6 to reach the second round. Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik continued his strong form with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over Croatian Borna Coric, and will now take on Canadian Milos Raonic in the Round of 16.

Up the other end of the draw, Russian second seed Andrey Rublev saw off the challenge of Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs 7-5 6-3, while Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime got past Maxime Cressy in two tiebreakers.

Australian Alex de Minaur took care of American Sebastian Korda 6-4 6-3, and will now lock horns with former top 10 player and qualifier David Goffin. Also on the winners list was Marton Fucsovics who won the all-Hungarian clash against Fabian Marozsan 7-6 6-1, while Alexander Shevchenko came from behind to defeat Zhizhen Zhang, 4-6 6-4 6-3. German Jan-Lennard Struff also battled past Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6 7-6 7-6.

Tomorrow marks the first time Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner will take to the court since his memorable Grand Slam win, facing home court hope Botic Van de Zandschulp in the opening round. Third seed Holger Rune will be looking for some continuity after retiring injured in his last tournament, and the young Dane takes on Russian, Roman Safiullin.

In the other Round of 32 matches to take place, two former top 10 talents go head-to-head first up on Centre Court with wildcard Gael Monfils up against qualifier Denis Shapovalov, while sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov faces Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the match immediately afterwards. Finn youngster Emil Ruusuvuori will test himself against seventh seed and French number one Ugo Humbert on Court 1.


[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Zizou Bergs (BEL) -5 6-3
[4] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Jiri Lehecka (CZE) 6-3 6-7 7-6
[5] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4 6-3
[8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Borna Coric (CRO) 6-3 6-4
[PR] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [WC] Jesper de Jong (NED) 7-6 6-4
Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 3-6 7-6 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Fabian Marozsan (HUN) 7-6 6-1
Alexander Shevchenko (KAZ) defeated Zhizhen Zhang (CHN) 4-6 6-4 6-3
[Q] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [WC] Dino Prizmic (CRO) 6-4 6-7 6-1
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [Q] Massimo Cressy (USA) 7-6 7-6

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