MIAMI (AP) — Defending champion Ash Barty returned to the final of the Miami Open by beating No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.
On Saturday, Barty will play the winner of the second semifinal between No. 8 Bianca Andreescu and No. 23 Maria Sakkari.
Barty is assured of retaining her No. 1 ranking next week. She won the Miami title in 2019, and the event was canceled last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the men’s side, Hubert Hurkacz of Poland earned his first semifinal berth in a top-level ATP event by rallying past No. 2-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Hurkacz, seeded 26th, has won three in a row when facing a top-five opponent, but he beat Tsitsipas for only the second time in their eight meetings.
Barty has gained momentum after starting the tournament by saving a match point against qualifier Kristina Kucova. That was Barty’s first match outside her native Australia since February 2020.
Barty had been 1-5 previously against Svitolina but took charge with two early breaks and used her strong serve and deep slices to keep the Ukrainian on the defensive.
Midway through the second set, Svitolina made a rare trip to the net, and Barty responded with a perfect lob winner that drew an appreciative pat of the racket strings from her opponent. On match point, Barty closed out the victory with a forehand winner and a fist pump.
Hurkacz’s upset win further scrambled the men’s draw. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer skipped the tournament, and No. 1-seeded Daniil Medvedev lost in the quarterfinals Wednesday night to No. 7 Robert Bautista Agut.
In the last quarterfinal Thursday night, unseeded American Sebastian Korda was to play No. 4 Andrey Rublev. Bautista Agut will face No. 21 Jannik Sinner in the first semifinal Friday, and a first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion will be crowned Sunday.
Hurkacz was serving at 0-2, 15-40 in the second set when he began his comeback. He steadied his baseline game, while Tsitsipas became increasingly erratic and frustrated as the match progressed.
“I was very stressed these two weeks,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt like it was my opportunity. It’s a very disappointing loss. Everything was under control. And suddenly, I don’t know, self-explosion.”
Hurkacz hit 15 aces and saved 10 of the 13 break points he faced. He’ll climb in next week’s rankings to at least 27th, a career high.
“I want to be as good as I can,” Hurkacz said. “Hopefully, I can win some titles in the future.”
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