FRENCHMAN Ugo Humbert won his fifth ATP Tour title overnight, defeating Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the Open 13 Provence final, 6-4 6-3. In front of a home crowd, the French talent played some fantastic tennis when it counted to stand up against the veteran and lie the ATP 250 trophy in Marseille, his second in his home nation.
Humbert’s most recent title came last season at Metz, marking the first time the now 25-year-old had won a trophy in his home nation. The world number 21 will move up three spots with the victory into 18th on Tour, a new career-high.
Not only that, but Humbert’s rankings rise saw him overtake compatriot Adrian Mannarino to regain his nation’s top billing. The fourth seed at Marseille had an incredibly tough draw, needing to beat the first, second and fifth seeds en route to the title after having a bye in the opening round.
Incredibly, Humbert dropped his first set to countryman Hugo Gaston 6-2, then went 8-0 for the rest of the tournament, never losing more than four games in a single set. Along the way he collected the scalps of Spanish fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, top seed Hubert Hurkacz – who eliminated Humbert in the third round of the Australian Open a fortnight earlier – ad of course second seed Dimitrov.
Humbert served up 10 aces and won a massive 33 of 38 points off his first serve, while saving both break points against him which came in the second set. Dimitrov was rock solid off his first serve, winning 79 per cent of points for the match from it, as well as producing six aces. Unfortunately for the Bulgarian, while he could not capitalise on break point opportunities, the Frenchman could, breaking his older opponent twice.
Though it might have been only his second title over the last three seasons, Humbert has a history of standing up in deciders, winning his past five ATP Tour finals.
“I’m very strong mentally in finals,” Humbert said post-match. “It was a great match against Grigor, he’s one of the best players at the moment, so it was not easy. It’s so nice to win at home again.
“It’s here where everything began, because I reached my first semi-final on Tour [here]. It’s really nice to win Marseille, it’s a good feeling.”
Humbert is becoming a tricky player on indoor hardcourt, with the Frenchman extending his streak to eight consecutive wins following his title in Metz under identical conditions.
“Everything is there. I am pretty solid from the baseline, I serve very well and I am strong mentally,” he said. “Everything is here and I put everything on court.”
PAUL BREAKS TITLE DROUGHT
American Tommy Paul fought through an incredibly tough encounter against compatriot Marcos Giron to secure his first title in almost three years, winning at the 2024 Dallas Open. Paul survived a tiebreaker first set, then bounced back from a second set defeat, to win 7-6 5-7 6-3 in two hours and 32 minutes.
Paul lifted his first ATP Tour trophy at Stockholm in 2021, but has had to wait 820 days for his second, ending the giant-killing spree of Giron who defeated top 20 players Frances Tiafoe and Adrian Mannarino in the tournament.
In the final, Paul served seven aces and won a massive 71 and 67 per cent of his first and second serve points off a 71 per cent clip, while converting both his break point opportunities. Giron also broke twice and put plenty of pressure on the world number 15’s serve, but Paul stepped up when it counted.
The title meant Paul moved up to number two from the United States representatives, surpassing Tiafoe, and remaining ahead of youngster Ben Shelton with the trio ranked 14th to 16th behind world number nine, Taylor Fritz.