Hubert Hurkacz is rising, compliments coach Boynton

He may be very tall, but Hubert Hurkacz has improved his movement over the past year. He has a lot of variety, with his vast forehand and his firm backhand, which he can pound very hard, or place softly right over the net. When he is up there, and he goes down, and he picked it up. He touched it just over the net. Perhaps he needs to return a lot more, but on Friday, he beat the former three-time champion Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-3.

There were some fascinating rallies, scrambling, and moving the ball all around. It was close, but the Pole edged the Scot.

This year, Hurkacz rose up. On hardcourts, he won Delray Beach, and Miami, when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner to win the title. That was gigantic, given then he finally won an ATP 1000.

It’s a different story when Hurkacz plays on clay. For two and half months, he only won one match during the 2021 clay court seast. Apparently, at least on the dirt, he doesn’t understand how to play much at all.

He was thrilled to go to England and play on the grass. Right there, he started smashing the ball. He tried to end the points quickly. He sure did at Wimbledon, and he reached the semis, upsetting Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer before he lost in the semis to Matteo Berrettini in four sets.

Hurkacz does have huge first and second serves, but the Pole does not return that well — yet.

This week, the No. 13 is playing in Metz. He is coached with Craig Boynton, who has helped him a lot.

“The work we have been doing every single day, last year as well, we have been working very hard. I think just that’s a process and I’m improving my game. I try to get better every single day,” he said. “I mean, that helps. …I’m super fortunate to have such a great coach. That’s I think the decision that makes a huge difference, to have someone really experienced, very knowledgeable, and also like that understands you as a person.

On Saturday, Hurkacz beat Peter Gojowczk 6-4,7-6. He has reached the final and he will face against Pablo Carreno Busta, a very patient player. So, if Hurkacz wins, then his confidence will be in the sky.

Soonwoo Kwon won his first title at the Astana Open, becoming on the second South Korean man to win on the ATP Tour.

Kwon downed James Duckworth 7-6(6) 6-3, who was also looking for his first title.

“I am really happy to win my first ATP 250 title,” Kwon said. “I am just really really happy to win today. It was a tough match today against James. He served really well and played very well and I tried to focus every single point.”

In 2003, South Korean Hyung-Taik Lee won the Sydney crown.

On Saturday, Petra Kvitova and Iga Swiatek both lost in the semis. Kvitova is still up and down. Swiatek can play great, but when she is playing mediocre, then she can become foiled. Swiatek said: “I’m stressed out but you have to learn how to live with it.”

Maria Sakkari beat Swiatek 6-4, 7-5 at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Now she has reached the final, and this year, she has been so stable. “It was a very high-level match, and I’m very happy that I could bring that level today. It’s a very important thing for me, and Iga is a very tough opponent because she’s very solid and she fights a lot. She’s one of the best players now, and I’m very happy with the way I played.”

On Monday, Sakkari could reach the top 10. She has a realistic shot of reaching the WTA Finals for the first time. That would be thrilling.

Naomi Osaka is out for the rest of the year. She is struggling, mentally. That is sad, but hopefully in 2022, she will be back again on court and find some happiness.