The first ATP Masters 1000 of the year is almost always the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, but this year it has had to settle for sixth after not going ahead at all in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the Miami Open took centre stage as the inaugural Masters event of the season with a different looking draw as none of the ‘Big 3’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would be in a Masters 1000 for the first time since 2004.
It paved the way for the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas to stamp their authority on the rest of the tour, but an even younger generation would dominate the tournament.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas fell in the quarterfinals, while Alexander Zverev was trounced in the second round against Emil Ruusuvuori, leaving the door ajar for others to grab their own slice of glory.
Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz was the man who triumphed in his now home state of Florida, defeating young Italian Jannik Sinner in the final, which was certainly one for the future.
It was a breakthrough moment for the 24-year-old, who has since gone on to reach a career high ranking of 11 this year, while also stunning Roger Federer with an astonishingly dominant display in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to progress to his first major semifinal.
However at this year’s edition at the BNP Paribas Open, what most people are forgetting is the illustrious ‘Sunshine Double’, which is where a player claims back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami.
Most recently, Federer achieved the feat in 2017 for the third time in his career, while Novak Djokovic holds the record with four. The only other player to claim the honour on multiple occasions is Steffi Graf with two.
Now, while the events are not scheduled one after another this year, it should not detract from the fact that Hubert Hurkacz is still in with a chance to conquer the Sunshine Double.
Tennis pundits may consider it a laugh to even mention the feat considering the months in between the two events, but if the Pole is able to salute in the desert, it was possibly be an even greater achievement considering the consistency one must have to win prestigious events at the bookends of a season.
Should Hurkacz continue his charge in California and produce just four more wins, he would become just the eleventh person in history to hold both Miami and Indian Wells in the same calendar year, and just the eighth man.
All eleven have reached World No.1 at some point in their career.
It won’t be easy, with the likes of Karatsev, Medvedev, Ruud, Zverev and Tsitsipas all still in the draw, but it would be one of the more phenomenal tennis efforts in recent history.
Hubert Hurkacz has had a magnificent year, but yet another Masters 1000 title and the elusive Sunshine Double would go down in history.
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