He was a favorite and he assumed. By offering Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round, Ugo Humbert had opened his table, still had to be confirmed. And Messin did it on Friday by controlling the South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in two sets (6-3, 7-6) and 1h35 of play in the quarterfinals in Antwerp. Already semi-finalist of the Belgian tournament last year, he will therefore try on Saturday to better face Daniel Evans or Karen Khachanov.
It is sometimes difficult to follow up after a big performance. But Ugo Humbert is no longer a rookie and it shows. In Antwerp, he enjoys the indoor conditions which allow him to set up his offensive tennis. Finally, only his early exit at Roland Garros somewhat tarnishes his last promising weeks. Because if winning against the 90th player in the world is no longer a feat for him, the ranking of his opponent of the day does not say anything about the threat he represented.
More heckled in the 2nd set, Humbert never panicked
Lloyd Harris remained in a quarter-final last week in Cologne, where he was also out of qualifying. Only Alexander Zverev, seed number 1 and future winner of the tournament, was then able to stop him. In the space of a few days, the South African could boast of having beaten players like Kyle Edmund, Steve Johnson, Corentin Moutet or even Taylor Fritz. It was therefore not to be taken lightly and Humbert did not make this mistake. With great confidence in the exchange and forehand, the Frenchman achieved a first set close to perfection during which he did not concede any break point.
After delighting the opposing service at 2-2 in the second set, certainly seeing a comfortable victory stretching out his arms, Humbert slightly distracted: with 3 forehand errors and a double fault, he thus revived his opponent. But the Frenchman never gave in to panic, even when Harris grew emboldened to the point of ending up two points in the set at 4-5, 0/30. He resumed his march forward, forcing his rival to give way. And just before the tie-break, the latter somewhat blocked his knee on a defensive replacement.
Less free in his movements, Harris could not really be mistaken in the decisive game. Humbert did not give him the opportunity anyway, authoritarian with his left-handed slice in the service. If there is one point to improve for the semi-final, it will be his percentage of first balls, not always there. But for the rest, the French can be satisfied: his tennis exudes confidence.