Humbert Celebrates Metz Homecoming With Title, French No. 1 Ranking

Ugo Humbert (photo: Moselle Open)

METZ/WASHINGTON, November 11, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Metz native Ugo Humbert culminated a dream week at the Moselle Open in this northeastern France city by winning his hometown tournament for the first time. As he collapsed to the ground in celebration after securing victory, an emotional Humbert proved that fairytale dreams do come true.

In a very efficient 67 minutes, and before a lively French crowd that filled 4,500-seat Les Arenes de Metz, the likable and humble Humbert defeated 22-year-old World No. 63 Alexander Shevchenko of Russia, 6-3, 6-3 to become the 12th French titlist in the 20th edition of the ATP 250 indoor hard-court event. The No. 4 seed dropped just four points on his first serve, saved the only break point he faced, and broke his opponent’s serve three times. Humbert outpointed a heartbroken but proud Shevchenko 58-42.

“I tried to play my game, to put the pressure on every point,” Humbert explained in an on-court, post-match interview. “It was not easy. I knew the key was to stay really present and I did I when I had the opportunity. I tried to go for and I did it. I’m super proud.”

Afterward, the crowd serenaded the victorious Humbert with a cheerful rendition of “Le Marseillaise,” the national anthem of France. He seemed delighted and thankful – and savored the moment.

“It was my dream when I was young to win this tournament,” Humbert said shortly before receiving his champion trophy. “It’s just amazing. I have a lot of feelings now. I can’t describe it. It’s so incredible to win here in my hometown, in front of my family, to finish the year strong this is an amazing feeling.”

The 25-year-old Humbert, who began the week ranked a career-high No. 23, posted a personal-best 33rd victory in winning his fourth career ATP Tour title in his fourth final. His Metz crown goes along with previous triumphs at Auckland and Antwerp, both in 2020, and at Halle in 2021.

It also means that Humbert will end the year ranked French No. 1 for the first time in his career and make his Top 20 debut come Monday, becoming the first Frenchman inside the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Ranking since Gaël Monfils in August 2022. He finished just ahead of fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who earlier Saturday won the Sofia Open title in Bulgaria.

“So great for French tennis, so good!” Humbert expressed beaming a big smile.

Meanwhile, as Shevchenko was attempting to become the seventh first-time champion this season on the ATP Tour, Humbert had other ideas. He attacked the young Russian with both his accurate and effective first serve and a barrage of relentless groundstrokes. While there was little joy in losing, it was still a career-shaping week for Shevchenko. He will rise to No. 49 in the rankings and make his Top 50 debut next week.

“[Playing in the final in Metz] is something I’m always going to be grateful for,” Shevchenko said during the trophy ceremony. “It’s something I dreamed of. To be honest, I’m going to remember it for a long time.”

Shevchenko gave props to Humbert. “Ugo, man, you played unbelievable. There was no stopping you. I just want to congratulate you. If you keep playing like this, big things will be waiting for you. Enjoy winning the title at home, it’s a special feeling.”

Nys and Zielinski successfully defend Metz doubles title

Hugo Nys of Moraco and Jan Zielinski of Poland won their second straight Metz doubles title on Saturday. The No. 1 seeds defeated German pair Constantin Frantzen and Hendrik Jebens, 6-4, 6-4, in an hour and 12 minutes. The Monegasque/Polish duo combined for five aces, won 88 percent of their first-serve points and saved both break points they faced. They converted a pair of break points – in the ninth game of the opening set and the first game of the second set – that proved the margin of victory.

Nys and Zielinski, who improved to 49-36 as a team (30-24 in 2023), became the second team to successfully defend their Metz title following Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in 2007-08. Now, Zielinski is a three-time winner after winning the 2021 title with Hubert Hurkacz.

The Germans are 3-5 as a team after making their team debut in 2022 at an M25 event in Trimbach and their tour-level debut earlier this season in Gstaad. They came into the week with a 0-4 tour-level record, then advanced to their first ATP Tour final together after upsetting No. 3 seeds Lloyd Glasspool and John Peers in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seeds Harri Heliovaara and Andreas Mies in the semifinal round.

By the numbers

Ugo Humbert became seventh different French player to win the Moselle Open singles title and first since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won in 2019. Other winners: Arnaud Clement (2003), Jerome Haehnel (2004), Gaël Monfils (2009), Lucas Pouille (2016), Gilles Simon (2010, 2013, 2018), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2011, 2012, 2015, 2019).

“Quotable …”

“Four finals, four titles, it’s just amazing. I play to win, that’s the mindset.”

Ugo Humbert of France, during his on-court interview after winning the Moselle Open title, the fourth ATP crown of his career.