Tennis: Hurkacz wins five set thriller to reach last 16

Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Polish men’s number one, Hubert Hurkacz withstood a mid-match revival from Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Friday to secure a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time.

In an enthralling encounter that swung to and fro, the Pole stepped up to the plate on his serve in a tight fifth set to advance 7-6(3), 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and 40 minutes.

In front of a packed Margaret Court Arena, Hurkacz took early control, firing 18 winners across the first two sets to move ahead. However, Shapovalov bounced back, with the World No. 22 forcing a decider, moving inside the baseline to strike his backhand with more precision and power, pushing Hurkacz deep.

In a tight fifth set, Hurkacz showed great resolve to regain momentum. The World No. 11 gained the only break of serve in the sixth game and won 91 per cent (20/22) of his first-serve points.

“From two sets up, Denis then started to play some really good tennis,” Hurkacz said. “He is such a good competitor and player, so I hope you guys had fun watching us compete.

“I needed to find some rhythm on my serve. I knew I would get a look on the return games, but I was just trying to stay in there. It was really tough. He was playing really well. It was super tough but it was super fun to play. The crowd was giving a lot of energy,” Hurkacz reflected.

Hurkacz will next face 29th seed Sebastian Korda in the fourth round.

The 25-year-old is a less prolific performer on the hard courts, his greatest grand slam achievement to date was on the grass of Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals in 2021.

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