Miami is a special place for the Pole as he lifted the biggest title of his career at this event back in 2021, and he surely wanted to repeat it in 2023, but his opponent was surely against it as he wanted to follow up on a lucky break.
After losing in the second round of the 2023 Indian Wells to Carlos Alcaraz, Thanasi Kokkinakis moved to Miami where he also had to play in the qualifying. However, he lost in the final of the qualifying to Benoit Paire and it seemed that his hopes for a good showing at an ATP 1000 event are over.
Yet, Kokkinakis was awarded one of the three lucky loser spots in the main draw, so he could compete for valuable ranking points and prize money. In the first round, the 26-year-old defeated wild card, Zizou Bergs, before taking on the eight-seeded Hurkacz who is also 26.
The first set looked exactly as fans could imagine a set between two players with good serves would look like. There were no break points and it had to be decided in a tie-break as both players continued firing aces.
In the tie-break, Kokkinakis sprinted into a 3-0 lead, but Hurkacz soon started his own streak, winning six consecutive points to lead 6-3. But the Polish player didn't use any of his three break points and the same thing happened three more times as the score was tied once again at 9-9. Eventually, Kokkinakis pushed through, winning the tie-break 12-10.
Finally, fans that came to the Grandstand saw some break points in the third set. Hurkacz was the player who had them and on his second chance, he made a good use of it, breaking his opponent to lead 3-2 and later 4-2 in the second set.
At 5-4, Hurkacz was serving to take the match into a decider, but the Australian broke back. He then saved one more break point in the next game to force yet another tie-break.
After more than two hours of play, a second tie-break started and Kokkinakis got the first mini-break once again. But Hurkacz broke back also this time and the players changed sides for the first time as the score was tied at 3-3.
Kokkinakis had three match points and chances to end the match, one of those on his own serve, but he couldn't use his chances and Hurkacz eventually won the tie-break 9-7 to force a decider.
In 2023, Kokkinakis experienced already one painful loss when he was defeated by Andy Murray in nearly a six-hour match at the Australian Open. This time, he wanted to avoid the same loss and he showed it in the third set.
Hurkacz had four break points in the fourth game and one more in the eighth, but his opponent saved them all. Eventually, also the third set was also decided in a tie-break as the match already surpassed its 200th minute.
Throughout the third set, Hurkacz was a better player on his serve, holding much more easily than his opponent, but that means nothing in a tie-break. Despite stealing his opponent's serve twice, Kokkinakis lost his advantage every time and he even allowed his opponent to have a match point.
Although the Australian had five match points, it meant nothing when Hurkacz used his only chance to win the match 6-7(10), 7-6(7), 7-6(6) and advance to the third round of the 2023 Miami Open. Up next, the Pole will play against the winner of the match between Adrian Mannarino and the 32nd-seeded American sensation Ben Shelton.