United Cup : Hubert Hurkacz does double duty, helps Poland past Kazakhstan
Brisbane : Hubert Hurkacz earned a critical win for his country at the United Cup, where he defeated Alexander Bublik 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-3 to give Poland a 2-1 lead against Kazakhstan, here on Sunday.
Magda Linette then finished the job and Hurkacz-Iga Swiatek capped a 4-1 victory in the mixed doubles for their country. World No. 48 Linette secured the winning point for Poland, easing past Kazakhstan’s Zhibek Kulambayeva 6-2, 6-1 in Brisbane.
“Following Hubi was great. Watching that match from them was nerve-wracking. But it was really nice coming with the advantage of knowing he won. It was great and I just did my job,” Linette said.
Hurkacz’s match appeared destined for a final-set tie-break between two of the biggest servers on the ATP Tour, but Hurkacz was opportunistic at the most critical moment. On his third breakpoint at 4-3, the Pole hit a well-placed return deep in the court to put Bublik on the back foot, then rushed forward and executed a perfect half volley to elicit an easy putaway.
If Hurkacz had any nerves as he stepped to the line to serve for the victory, he did not show them. The Pole held to love, crushing his 18th ace of the match to triumph after two hours and nine minutes.
“It was a lot of fun to play against Sascha. I think that the quality was really high. It was the first match of the new year on the first [day of the year], so that was pretty good. I’m really happy with the quality and it was definitely a fun match,” Hurkacz said.
“It was a lot of fun to play in front of such a great crowd. I’ve never been to Brisbane and I really love it here so thanks guys for coming,” he added. Hurkacz now leads Bublik 4-1 in their ATP head-to-head series and has won four consecutive matches against Kazakhstani.
Bublik hit 15 aces and saved three of the four break points he faced, but it was his final service game that proved his undoing. Linette was clinical in her first match of the season, showing her quality and experience against Kulambayeva, who has become a fan favourite in Brisbane.
The 441st-ranked 22-year-old had no answers for Linette’s baseline consistency. Linette fired 18 groundstroke winners in the match while limiting Kulambayeva to just five. With the tie already in hand, Hurkacz and Swiatek showed their quality in the mixed doubles, defeating Kulambayeva and Grigoriy Lomakin 6-3, 6-4.
Lomakin threw in multiple underarm serves successfully, but it was not enough for the Kazakhstanis. WTA World No. 1 Swiatek hit an around-the-net-post winner and Poland will next face Switzerland to decide the winner of Group B.
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