Eyes vague, his walk hesitant, he did not hide his advanced state of fatigue. For the third time in three laps, it was however he, Ugo Humbert, who had the last word in the end. He had spent almost five and a half hours on the court to find himself in the round of 16 Thursday, and he will have eight on the clock before hitting the first ball of his quarter-final against Milos Raonic on Friday. Eight, like the number of consecutive victories on the Messin circuit which remains on a title in Antwerp.
At 22, he confirmed his constant progress in Masters 1000 and will therefore discover new altitudes for him. What to confuse him? “This is the first time that I am in quarterfinals of a Masters 1000. In Rome, I was not far either. What does this mean to me? I am very happy. But this is not an end in itself. I try to play game after game. I do not put pressure on the result. I don’t have too many expectations on this“, observed the person concerned after his victory over Marin Cilic. A speech as ambitious as civilized will say some, but above all structured, in the image of the player with irreproachable professionalism.
Mentally, I was still very good
Humbert is not a superman. He suffered on the court, but he found a way out, proof that he has taken a step forward. “Physically, it was a little harder today (Thursday), because my first two games were not easy. I tried to find resources, especially mentally. I believed in it from start to finish, even when I lose the second, I tell myself that I have to trust myself, that I can do it, that I will try to find solutions“, he unveiled. And it is thanks to this positive attitude, this deep conviction, that he changed the dynamics of a game that was going badly for him.
The confidence built up this season (two titles in Auckland and Antwerp) and in recent weeks with two notable Top 10 victories – Daniil Medvedev in Hamburg and Stéfanos Tsitsipas in Bercy – has also highlighted his tactical progress. This serenity allowed him to maintain a certain lucidity despite the weariness. “I couldn’t go back. So I stepped back a bit and felt it a little more feverish at a time and took my chance. I managed to break at the right time. I did not doubt when concluding. I was confident. I tried to be released to the service. It was positive. Mentally, I was still very good“, he underlined, confirming the impression given on the center court.
Despite the camera, he gives relief to the tournament
Best Frenchman of the moment, he managed to get out of a difficult scene to confirm his dazzling form of the moment. Nothing now prevents him from dreaming bigger. True to himself, Humbert has his feet firmly on the ground. But if he doesn’t get drunk, he doesn’t forbid himself anything. “I know I am able to recover fairly quickly. I already did not expect to be this good today (Thursday). Because at the end of my match against Tsitsipas, I was really not well yesterday. There, it was already better muscularly.”
Whatever happens now, Humbert will have given relief to a 2020 edition which is sorely lacking because of the camera. And this is the only regret of the person concerned. “I am disappointed that there is no audience. I would have liked to vibrate with them and share all that with the French. For me, that doesn’t change anything: when you’re on the pitch, you try to play good tennis. But it’s already great to be able to compete and be on the pitch here. “All the more reason to enjoy it as long as possible. Let him not doubt it even if he cannot hear them, tennis fans, in front of their screens, take great pleasure in seeing him play like this.