Humbert Wins Marseille Title With Confidence And Good Feeling

Ugo Humbert (photo: Open 13 Provence)

MARSEILLE/WASHINGTON, February 11, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

From first ball to last ball, France’s Ugo Humbert gave a flawless performance to win the ATP 250 Open 13 Provence over Grigor Dimitrov Sunday afternoon.

The No. 4 seed Humbert’s 84-minute 6-4, 6-3 victory over second-seeded Dimitrov from Bulgaria, before an enthusiastic crowd that filled the Palais de Sports – the Frenchman’s fifth career ATP Tour title – was a display of confidence. It also spotlighted a talented player who was in control of the moment and filled with good feeling. It was the 21st-ranked Humbert’s first win over the World No. 13 Dimitrov in three tries as well as his eighth consecutive indoor victory going back to his Metz title triumph last November.

Against the 32-year-old Dimitrov, Humbert won the 40-minute opening set 6-4 by taking advantage of the only break of serve by either player. In a set characterized by steady play from both competitors, Humbert, 25, took advantage of an unforced error in the 10th game Dimitrov, who netted a forehand return that put an abrupt end to a brief three-shot rally and the set.

Then, Humbert saved a pair of break points to open the second set. The first came on his fifth ace, the second after Dimitrov fisted a forehand long that killed a 10-shot exchange. From there, the Frenchman went on a roll.  Quickly, he broke Dimitrov and consolidated the break for a 3-0 advantage. Humbert had now won five straight games before Dimitrov got on the board with a hold of serve. By then, the damage had been done by Humbert.

Humbert’s seventh ace concluded a quick and efficient love hold for a confident 4-1 lead. Soon, he served for the match, ahead 5-3, and there was no looking back.

When Humbert secured championship point on his second try, after Dimitrov hit a second-shot return wide, he fell forward to the ground with a big smile on his face in celebration of what he had just accomplished. Next, he skipped a path into the crowd to celebrate briefly with his team, family and friends. It was a happy moment for Humbert, who became just the eighth player in the Open Era to win his first five tour-level finals. He hit 10 aces, won 87 percent (33 of 38) of his first serve points, saved both break points he faced and converted two of four break points against Dimitrov. He outpointed his opponent 63-49.

“I’m very strong mentally in finals,” Humbert in an on-court interview before the trophy ceremony. “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.”

In accepting the runner-up prize, Dimitrov, who is 10-2 this season and already has won one title, looked for the positives. “You can’t win them all, but it’s always great to be in a final,” he said. Later, in his post-match news conference, Dimitrov said of Humbert’s performance: “He came out and played completely amazing. All credit to him today.”

On a super Sunday in the Bouches du Rhône, Humbert surpassed Adrian Mannarino as the new French No. 1, moving up to a new career-best ranking of No. 18, with his title victory. The 25-year-old from Metz also became the seventh Frenchman to win the title in Marseille, joining: Guy Forget, Fabrice Santoro, Arnaud Clement, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llorda.

“It’s here where everything began, because I reached my first semifinal on Tour [here],” said Humbert, who improved to 9-2 lifetime in Marseille. “It’s really nice to win Marseille, it’s a good feeling.” 

Machac and Zhang win first ATP Tour doubles title

Tomas Machac and Zhang Zhizhen

Tomas Machac and Zhang Zhizhen (photo: Open 13 Provence)

Unseeded Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic and Zhang Zhizhen of China completed an impressive week by winning their first ATP Tour doubles title at Marseille. Machac and Zhang defeated the unseeded Finnish pair Patrik Niklas-Salminen and Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-3, 6-4, in one hour and six minutes.

The winners, playing in their first ATP Tour doubles final, saved all six break points they faced and converted two of three chances. Machac and Zhang outpointed their opponents 59-45.

The Czech/Chinese duo, which debuted at the 2024 Australian Open and reached the semifinals, improved to 8-1. En route to the Marseille title, Machac and Zhang upset No. 2 seeds Harri Heliovaara of Finland and John Peers of Australia in the quarterfinals. Three of their four wins this week were decided by match tiebreakers.

Machac, 23, is the first Czech player to win an ATP Tour doubles title since Roman Jebavy at Cordoba in 2019 and the first Czech champion in Marseille in 16 years since Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner won the doubles title in 2008. Meanwhile, Zhang, 27, is the first Chinese player to win a tour-level doubles title.

Both Machac and Zhang will crack the Top 100 when the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings are updated on Monday. Zhang previously became the first Chinese player to break into the singles Top 50.

By the numbers

Ugo Humbert became the seventh Frenchman to win the singles title in Marseille and the eighth player in the Open Era to win his first five tour-level finals. The others are: Hubert Hurkacz, Carlos Alcaraz, Martin Klizan, Ernests Gulbis, Sjeng Schalken, Thomas Enqvist and Andrei Medvedev.

“Quotable …”

“Everything is there. I am pretty solid from the baseline, I serve very well and I am strong mentally. Everything is here and I put everything on court.”

Ugo Humbert, during his on-court interview, looking back on his fifth career title triumph.