Bublik Wins His Second Montpellier Title By Making History, Too

Alexander Bublik (photo: Open Sud de France)

MONTPELLIER/WASHINGTON, February 4, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Alexander Bublik won his fourth ATP Tour title by doing what he’s done all week long in Montpellier. He came from behind after losing the opening set to snatch victory from defeat and won his second Open Sud de France title in Montpellier, France Sunday afternoon.

The No. 2 seed Bublik of Kazakhstan rallied to defeat fourth seed Borna Coric of Croatia, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, in two hours and 18 minutes to win his first ATP Tour crown since Antwerp last fall. With mental strength as his ally, Bublik became the first player in Tour history to win an ATP Tour event after having lost the first set in each of his matches. Bublik did it four times, against Denis Shapovalov, Alexander Shevchenko, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Coric.

“I have no words. I was on the verge of losing in my opening round, now here I am standing with the title,” Bublik said in his on-court interview before the trophy ceremony. “Thank you guys for supporting me throughout the week. …

“I’ve seen all these great champions out there, and my face is in the stadium [because of 2022]. Maybe if I continue playing like this, I will have more of my pictures here, so I’m really happy.”

Bublik, who won the 2022 Open Sud de France title — his first at tour-level — became the third player to win multiple Montpellier crowns, joining Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils, who each have won three.

With both finalists battling for their fourth career tour-level title, Bublik jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the opening set after Coric’s serve was broken for just the second time all tournament. He consolidated the break with his third ace. Then, Coric got back on serve after breaking Bublik in the seventh game while surviving a 15-shot rally. Earlier, the 37th-ranked Coric was warned for racquet abuse, but it may have been just what he needed to wake himself up in the final.

Soon, after Coric was nearly a double-break down, he reversed course, gained break points and came up with a brilliant backhand return when he needed it to break for a 6-5 lead. Finally, the Croatian won the 57-minute first set 7-5 on his third set-point opportunity with a solid service winner.

Losing the first set had been a continuous pattern all tournament for Bublik. He became the first player since Novak Djokovic in 2022 at Belgrade to reach the final coming from a set down in each match. Could he do it again against Coric? After breaking for a 3-1 lead, Bublik went to work and turned around the final by becoming more aggressive, in both his service and return games. He went on to break at love to put away the 35-minute middle set 6-2.

Onward to the deciding set, where Bublik would try to perform more come-from-behind magic. As it happened, Bublik broke first with a fifth-shot overhead winner to go ahead 2-0, then consolidated it with his 14th ace for a 3-0 start. The 26-year-old Russian-born Kazakh continued to mount the pressure on his opponent by increasing his lead to 4-1 with a service winner. Then, with his first title of 2024 coming into focus, Bublik saved a couple of break points during a 12-point seventh game and held for 5-2 by forcing Coric into netting a return. A game later, he served out the victory and won the Montpellier title on his first match point.

Bublik completed the title victory by hitting 19 aces, winning 80 percent of his first-serve points, breaking Coric four times in nine opportunities and outpointing the 27-year-old Croatian 94-80.

In addition to winning first-prize money of €88,125 and 250 ATP ranking points, Bublik will move up to a career-high No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He improved his win-loss record on the 2024 season to 7-2.

Doumbia and Reboul capture Open Sud de France doubles title

Top-seeded Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul of France won the Open Sud de France doubles title by defeating No. 4 seeds Albano Olivetti of France and Sam Weissborn of Austria. The French duo rallied from a set down to garner a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-6 victory for their first title on home soil.

Doumbia and Reboul combined to win 77 percent of their return points, broke Olivetti and Weissborn twice in seven tries and outpointed their opponents 80-68.

It was the 48th career triumph for Doumbia and Reboul, who made their first appearance as a team at an Algerian F3 event in 2015 before making their tour-level debut at the French Open in 2021. On Monday, each will be ranked at a career high, Doumbia 32nd and Reboul 34th.

Fabien Reboul and Sadio Doumbia (photo: Open Sud de France)

“I was quite emotional today,” Doumbia said afterward, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “Winning our second title and first one in France here, in front of our family and friends, means a lot to us.”

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Reboul added. “Sadio is almost like a big brother to me.”

Doumbia, 33, and Reboul, 28, are the fourth French team to win the Montpellier title and the first since Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert won in 2022. They are now 2-1 in ATP Tour finals following their first title last September in Chengdu, China.

The winners will split first-prize money of €30,610 and each earns 250 ATP Ranking points.

By the numbers

The 14th edition of the Open Sud de France set an attendance record with 61,147 fans attending the ATP 250 indoor hard court event.

“Quotable …”

“Obviously I‘m very sad about the final. It was a really good match. I enjoyed it and it was a great fight. I had my chances but he was serving really big in all the big moments and he was the better player today.”

Borna Coric, during his post-match news conference, after losing his sixth career ATP Tour final.