ORTISEI, October 13, 2018
Two Frenchmen will square off in Sunday’s singles final of the Sparkasse Val Gardena Challenger Südtirol. Top seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert will take on the tournament’s No. 6 Ugo Humbert for the title of the €64,000 ATP Challenger event.
Humbert, who has come to the Tennis Club Ortisei for the first time, emerged victorious from the all-French encounter with Gregoire Barrere 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. The No. 6 seed from Metz saved all of the four break points he faced, gaining the decsisive break in the sixth game of the final set to prevail after one hour and 46 minutes.
“It’s a big win for me today, as I lost our last match in February. So I am very happy with the result today,” Humbert told Tennis TourTalk. “It’s difficult here, as it is very fast and only a few points can decide the match. However, I like the conditions and the entire area here with the village situated in the mountains.”
Humbert has advanced to his third ATP Challenger final of the season, enjoying a great run and lifted his maiden trophy in Segovia in August. “I am happy with the tennis life at the moment. I enjoy my time on the court. This makes it easy.”
Humbert, who was born in Metz, practices at the French Tennis Federation in Paris and has been coached by Cedric Renaud for four years. Asked about his strengths and weaknesses, the youngster said: “The serve is my big weapon. I also have good backhand but I still have to work a bit on my forehand.”
A couple of weeks ago at the Moselle Open, the #NextGenATP Frenchman beat Bernard Tomic to reach the second round on home soil. “To play in front of my parents was something special. When I was younger, I attended the tournament as a visitor and now standing on the court was very nice.”
Humbert also qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw at the US Open. “The experience in New York was amazing. Playing Stan Wawrinka on Grandstand was incredible.” Now he is only one win away to crack the top 100 for the first time. “This is my big goal. I also want to make the main draw of the Australian Open.”
This could also mark a chance to meet his idol. “I really would like to play Roger Federer,” said Humbert and smiles.
Herbert beats Novak
Up next, however, will be World No. 55 Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The 27-year-old Schiltigheim native edged past Austria’s Dennis Novak 7-6(5), 6-4 later on Saturday. Herbert fired 23 aces, winning 82 per cent of his first service points to prevail after one hour and 24 minutes.
“He just played better today,” Novak had to admit. “I had three good wins this week,” the Austrian could take some positives from the Dolomites to his next tournament in Ismaning.
Humbert won the only previous meeting between the two Frenchmen at the Granby Challenger earlier this season.
Gillé/Vliegen clinch doubles title
Sander Gillé and Joran Vliegen have captured their fifth ATP Challenger doubles trophy of the season. The No. 4 seeds from Belgium fought past Purav Raja of India and Antonio Sancic from Croatia 3-6, 6-3, 10-3. The final lasted 56 minutes.
“We had a great summer and this has been our first title since Pullach. This week we had it together. It’s always tough, especially here with the altitude and the fast courts. I am very proud of the way we played, as the matches are very close,” Gillé told Tennis TourTalk.
“Next week will be a home tournament in Antwerp. We got a wild card and happy to play there this year. It will be a special feeling. We will just grind it out until the end of the season. It’s been a long but good year with ups and downs but the overall feeling is very well. We definitely improved compared to last year and I we just try to keep up this positive trend,” Vliegen added.