World number one Ashleigh Barty bucked the upset trend at the Miami Open on Thursday, rolling into the women’s final as men’s second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was toppled by Hurbert Hurkacz. Australia’s Barty fired 27 winners in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to return to the title match of a tournament she won when it was last held in 2019. But Greece’s Tsitsipas was left trying to explain a “self-explosion” after he squandered a commanding lead in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final loss to 26th seed Hurkacz of Poland — the latest in a string of upsets that saw men’s top seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 3 Alexander Zverev bow out along with women’s No. 2 Naomi Osaka.
Tsitsipas admitted it was a crushing outcome in a tournament where the absences of superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his own recent solid form seemed to offer him a chance to shine.
“I felt like it was my opportunity,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel like there was more space for me to show something greater. It’s a very disappointing loss.
“It was there, everything was under control. And suddenly, I don’t know, self-explosion.”
Tsitsipas exited the tournament after a tense encounter that saw the 22-year-old Greek given a time violation after the second set for taking too long to change his shirt and headband.
The world number five was also reportedly involved in a tense exchange with officials before the match after refusing to share a golf cart with Hurkacz used to ferry players to the court.
There was no sign that incident had unsettled Tsitsipas early on, however, as he dominated a one-sided first set to win 6-2.
Tsitsipas then quickly broke Hurkacz at the start of the second on the way to a 2-0 lead.
But just when it appeared the match was heading for a brisk conclusion, Hurkacz finally found his range.
After staving off two break points at 15-40 in the third game, Hurkacz went on to hold and then broke to level the set at 2-2 — a lost opportunity that demoralized Tsitsipas.
Another break of serve in the eighth game put Hurkacz 5-3 up and he made no mistake on his next service game, clinching the set with an angled drop shot that left Tsitsipas scrambling to the net.
Barty bit by bit
The momentum was with Hurkacz in the third and he seized control with a break in the fifth game, which would ultimately prove decisive as the Pole closed out the win.
Tsitsipas’ exit leaves Russian fourth seed Andrey Rublev, who played Sebastian Korda later Thursday for a place in the semi-finals, as the highest men’s seed left in the prestigious ATP Masters and WTA tournament.
On the women’s side, Barty has gone from strength to strength since saving a match point in her opening victory over Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova.
“Every single match I felt like I’ve done something a little bit better, and that’s all you can ask,” said Barty, who opted not to travel outside Australia last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and withdrew from tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March with a leg injury.
She received treatment for an abdominal issue between sets on Thursday, but vowed she would be “right as rain” for a title showdown on Saturday against either eighth-seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu or 23rd seed Maria Sakkari of Greece — who shocked Osaka in the quarter-finals.
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