Although his coach and mentor Riccardo Piatti repeated almost obsessively that to judge a player it takes “at least 150 matches at the ATP level”, Jannik Sinner is obviously forging ahead. At 19 and a half years old and only 70 games behind him, on Monday, he will be number 22 in the world and good for him to go number 14. In the worst case he will have reached his first final in a Masters 1000, well he will be champion in a “thousand” as a teenager, stuff that only a few players in history have succeeded in doing. Needless to say, at this point the comparisons with the great ones are wasted. And if we think of the great ones, the first thought, in spite of the GOAT debate, goes to Roger Federer. So let’s see what Roger had done, not at Sinner’s age, but with the same number of ATP games played. Federer made his debut in the ATP circuit back in 1998 (it is incredible to think that he is still in business), not even seventeen years old. In the first two seasons there are few games played (31), the real leap in quality he did in 2000, reaching 70, like Sinner today. Meanwhile, Hubert Hurkacz is making waves in Poland during the Miami Open presented by Itau. That means Wojtek Fibak, a Pole who cracked the world’s Top 10 in singles and doubles, is a busy man. Fibak, the only other player from their country to win an ATP Tour singles title, has been getting 100 calls a day with requests to speak about Hurkacz. While talking to ATPTour.com on Saturday, the 67-time tour-level titlist (singles and doubles) said his two phones buzzed 10 times with calls from newspapers, radio bookers and TV stations.
Polish legend Wojtek Fibak on Hubert Hurkacz
This is not the first time Hurkacz has shown his skills. He competed in the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals and has won two ATP Tour titles — at Winston Salem in 2019 and Delray Beach earlier this year. But Fibak first saw him play as a junior at Roland Garros. “I remember just the way he walked, like a basketball player a little bit. I thought of Andy Murray and I thought he had great defence and great hands, but he wasn’t as consistent then,” Wojtek Fibak said. “It’s difficult to be consistent with his tennis because he hits so flat, he doesn’t have any reserves. He doesn’t use topspin. With time, he became more consistent and then he became really dangerous. My dream is he will become Top 5 and possibly even higher, Top 3, maybe a leader, and he will stay the way he is [in terms of his personality]. That’s what I would like,” Fibak said. “Some people proved it [is possible], like Roger Federer, Raonic is a gentleman, he always loses the same way he wins. He’s playing another gentleman, Sinner, tomorrow. They are two young people who are excellent players for their sport and their followers the way they behave on the court and off the court.”