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Alcaraz defeats defending champion Hurkacz, enters Miami final

Miami, April 2 (IANS) Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz ended the 10-match tournament-winning streak of defending champion Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 7-6(5), 7-6(2) to advance to the final of the Miami Open on Saturday (IST).

This will be 18-year-old Alacraz’s biggest final of his young career, going one better than his semifinal run at Indian Wells two weeks ago. He will take on another first-time ATP Masters 1000 finalist, Norway’s Casper Ruud, who defeated Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina 6-4, 6-1 in the other semifinal.

“I have a lot of emotions right now. It’s something that you dream of when you are a child,” said Alcaraz, who is one win away from becoming the youngest champion in the tournament’s 37-year history according to atptour.com.

“It’s really good to be in the final here in Miami. I love playing here. The crowd is amazing. I’m going to approach the final like a first round, trying to mask the nerves. I’m going to enjoy it; it’s going to be a great final.”

“I couldn’t return his (Hurkacz) serves, but I knew that the match was going to be long sets like it was, 7-6, 7-6,” said Alcaraz. “At the beginning, I saw that I couldn’t return. I thought we were going to play a lot of tie-breaks… A little bit different (than my previous matches) with his serve, but it’s a great win for me.”

Hurkacz was all praise for his opponent.

“Definitely he’s playing insane for his age,” Hurkacz said following the match. “It’s really incredible how he plays, how he competes… He has an amazing career in front of him. It’s crazy how good he plays.”

By reaching the final, Alcaraz — the current world No. 16 – has improved to 6-6 against the top-10, having won the opening set in all six of his victories and lost the opener in all six defeats.

Alcaraz is bidding to become the third-youngest man to win a title at this level, behind only Michael Chang (1990, Toronto) and Rafael Nadal (2005, Monte Carlo). He’s also the second-youngest finalist in Miami history, behind only Nadal, who lost the 2005 final to Roger Federer.

Alcaraz is projected to move up to a career-high of No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with his final run, and will reach No. 11 with the title.

–IANS

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