Benoit Paire vs Hubert Hurkacz - Winston Salem Open Finals - Preview & Prediction
After a week of thrilling matches and a couple of upsets, we arrive at the finals of the last hard-court tournament in the North American swing in the build-up to the US Open beginning on August 26.
Comeback man Berdych started on a good note beating Italian veteran Seppi in three sets before losing to Krajinovic. On the other hand, former World Number 1 - Andy Murray bit the dust losing to Tennys Sandgren in a close match in straight sets. Indian fans had reasons to rejoice as Prajnesh too won a match. Prajnesh succumbed in his next match to the top seed Benoit Paire in straight sets.
In between, we had the incredible story of Lee Duck-Hee who made heads turn becoming the first deaf tennis player to win an ATP tour match. He lost the next match to Hurkacz but put up a great fight.
Top seeds like Joao Sousa, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Frances Tiafoe, Daniel Evans, Feliciano Lopez, Lorenzo Sonego and Ugo Humbert crashed out early in surprise defeats to less fancied opponents. Rain and power outages affected the schedules of the quarterfinals and semifinals but the fans had quality tennis on offer.
We also had a weird scoreline when top seed lost the first set 6-1 to Steve Johnson only to take the remaining two sets 6-0 6-0 in a rare double bagel.
The clash between the next-gen players in this tournament was fantastic with athleticism and entertainment on full display in three matches - Rublev vs Shapovalov, Tiafoe vs Hurkacz and Shapovalov vs Hurkacz matches.
Coming to the big final, we have an equal battle on offer with both the players - Paire and Hurkacz in splendid form. Paire has had a fantastic season with two titles and one runner-up performance. His tennis has made all the noise this year and things are going in the right track for him.
On the other hand, Hubert Hurkacz has emerged this year as the player to watch out with some impressive performances. Paire pips Hurkacz in experience as he played a lot of finals this year and knows the strategy to win while this is Hurkacz's final and he will have no expectations going into this match.
History is also in stake for Hurkacz as the last men's tennis player from Poland to win a title was Wojtek Fibak in 1982 when he clinched the WBT Chicago title.
Both the players will expect the unpredictability factor to play a big role as they are playing against each other for the first time. It will be a test of nerves and mental strength in a big final where a couple of repetitive unforced errors and double faults can change the course of the match.
Benoit Paire will be charging for his first hard-court title having won two clay-court tournaments in Marrakech and Lyon this year in a stand-out season. He must get his eyes in if he wants to get his hands on the coveted title. Paire had experienced nine wins as well as nine losses and will be gunning to win tonight. He might have never dreamt of such an amazing turnaround having lost in the first round last year to reach the finals this year in the Winston Salem Open.
Hurkacz possesses an impressive 20-8 record on hard-courts this year indicating that he loves playing on this surface. Paire will want to prove why he is a force to reckon despite being aged 30 and win his fourth career title while Hurkacz will look to play spoilsport and clinch his first title. The fans will definitely enjoy the battle between the top seed Paire and Hurkacz.
Paire has beaten some good players like Tsonga, Busta, Cuevas, Shapovalov, Fritz, Felix Auger, Herbert, Isner, and Verdasco this year. While, Hurkacz has trounced some big names like Nishikori, Pouille, and Shapovalov twice each. He also overcame the likes of Thiem, Cecchinato, Tsitsipas, Fritz, Lopez, and Tiafoe in a breakthrough season for him.
Hurkacz's all-round game and Paire's periodic inconsistency would give him a small edge over Paire in tonight's finals.
Hubert Hurkacz to win in three sets