First-Time Winner Spotlight: Hubert Hurkacz
Pole lifts first ATP Tour title in North Carolina
One year ago, Hubert Hurkacz was at No. 109 in the ATP Rankings. But the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier has come a long way in the past 12 months and reached another career milestone on Saturday by claiming his maiden tour-level trophy at the Winston-Salem Open.
The 22-year-old became the first Polish tour-level titlist since Wojtek Fibak lifted the WCT Chicago title in 1982, beating Benoit Paire in three sets in the championship match. Hurkacz defeated four consecutive seeded opponents en route to the trophy, including top seed Paire and second seed Denis Shapovalov.
ATPTour.com caught up with Hurkacz after his title-winning moment...
How does it feel to lift your first ATP Tour trophy and was this a goal of yours when you were a junior player?
Obviously, my dream was to one day lift a trophy. I am so excited. It was a huge pleasure to play here in Winston-Salem and I was just trying to enjoy every single moment.
Before this week, your best result on the ATP Tour was reaching a quarter-final. Talk about your breakthrough this week to win the five matches and what you did well.
I think I stayed calm throughout the whole week. During the matches, that helped me a lot. Friday was a big day for me, because I played the quarter-finals and semi-finals in one day. It was really important for me to stay mentally present and positive so I am glad that I was able to keep my focus for a long period of time. I am just happy to be here, where I am now.
How did you approach your first ATP Tour final against Benoit, who has already won two ATP Tour titles this year and has a lot of experience?
Against every single player, you have a plan and you try to stick to the plan. Just playing the final, you are a bit more tight. You want to win the match so much, but you have got to stay focussed on your game plan.
You are the first Polish player to win an ATP Tour singles title since Wojtek Fibak’s 1982 triumph in Chicago. When you hear that, what does that mean to you and what do you think it means for your country?
Wojtek was an amazing player and now I am so excited to be here. It is a long time, so I hope that I will inspire some young kids from Poland and they will soon be winning some ATP Tour titles.
Now that you have your first ATP Tour title and are projected to rise to a new career-high ATP Ranking on Monday, what are your goals for the rest of the season.
Just to improve my game and to become a better player every single day. I will try to improve some small things that will help my game in the future.
You are another player who has played at the Next Gen ATP Finals to have won their first ATP Tour title this year, what does that mean to you?
A couple of guys won their first titles this year, so I am excited for them. I think the guys are now improving. Their level is rising. [We are] also inspired by all the great players that are playing now, like Roger, Rafa and Novak. They are just amazing guys on and off the court. It is truly inspiring that we are able to play in the same tournaments that they are and also you are trying to learn from them. Obviously, we want to beat them in the future so that is exciting.
You started working with Craig Boynton earlier this year. What areas of your game has he helped you with specifically this year?
Everything. It is tough to say something specific. Mentally he helped me a lot and with my game plans and what tactics I should focus on. Those are the main things that he taught me.
Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge for helping you get to this point where you are today?
I am so thankful to my family, my sister and my previous coaches that helped me back in Poland. I am very thankful to them. I started playing at the age of 5, so my coaches [at that point] gave me something. They taught me a lot so I am thankful to all of them. All the support I had from all the Polish fans means a lot to me so I am thankful to them.
Who were the players you looked up to when you were young and who did you model your game on?
I think that is Roger. The way he plays is unbelievable so I think you can learn a lot from him.
What are your interests and hobbies when you are not on the court?
I like reading books and watching movies. I am interested in cars… the faster ones.