Roll on 2021! In this year darkened by the coronavirus, this thought has surely crossed many minds. And for French tennis, hope has had a name for several weeks: Ugo Humbert. His remarkable career in this Rolex Paris Masters certainly ended in a cruel way Friday with a defeat in the quarter-finals despite two match points in the tie-break of the third set. But the unhappy outcome could not make us forget the enthusiasm raised and the qualities more and more asserted of the good man.
Messin has undoubtedly taken on a new dimension. To be convinced, just listen to his speech at the exit of the court. Far from the legitimate satisfaction of the result of his week – a first quarter in Masters 1000 – and of having shaken a Milos Raonic back at a very high level, the frustration and the rage to win could be guessed in his words. “I played 4 good matches. Today (Friday), it’s a little hard to find the words, I was really not far from making my first semi-final in Masters 1000. I still produced a good level of play. there are a few points still to settle to win this kind of match“, he blurted out.
On the match point, there was better to do, I must go to the net
After a delay in ignition, Humbert was able, once again this week, to find surprising resources to (almost) reverse the situation. So much so that he got two match points at 6-4 in his favor in the final tie-break. On the first, victory slipped away. Milos Raonic certainly showed exceptional composure to save her at the net after a splendid and unbreathable exchange of 30 strikes. But during this one, a forehand long line from the Canadian seemed too long for a moment.
The ball was deemed good, but did it actually catch the line? We’ll never know. The doubt could have provoked the anger of the French, but a sign of maturity, he preferred to point out his own shortcomings. “It’s true that she seemed borderline, but it’s too hard to stop the point. Honestly, I don’t regret too much. I think there was better to do. I have to go more on this point and I haven’t been there enough. I have to do more at the net. Earlier in the tie-break he saw at 5-1 that I didn’t go when I ended up on a bunt where I got rid of the ball a bit. He was very good. He was number 3, so he feels it“, he observed with a bluffing lucidity.
And it is this ability to question oneself that makes us optimistic for the future. This desire to constantly progress is the prerogative of adults. If work and professionalism are not sufficient conditions to reach the top, these qualities are necessary. And Humbert has them. Virtually 30th in the ATP rankings, he is in a good position to be among the 32 seeds of the next Australian Open. He could have tried to consolidate this new status in Sofia next week, but he is lucid enough to think in the medium term.
Its engine? A visceral desire to progress
After his title in Belgium and his four fights in three sets this week at Bercy, it is time to put the machine down. “I had some pain to deal with from Antwerp. There, I was able to play 100%, I was on anti-inflammatory drugs. Small pains, it often happens to me, when I go on hard indoor. I will take the time and prepare for the next season. It makes me happy just thinking about it! “, he exclaimed.
And we can trust him, once the batteries are recharged, Humbert will work extra hard during the off-season. With areas of work already well in mind. “I don’t put pressure on myself. I can improve coming a little more to the net, and again in return. Afterwards physically too. I think I can be a little more, how to put it, a little more dynamic… I don’t know how… Explosive? Yes, explosive is the word“, he clarified.
Surprising on clay in Rome and then in Hamburg in his ability to defend, disarming his serenity indoors when he had to save match points against Daniel Evans in Antwerp, or dominate Stefanos Tsitsipas on the wire, Humbert affirmed a facet that we knew little about him: that of the warrior. When we know the importance of the mental dimension at the highest level, if it manages to make the required adjustments, the future looks full of opportunities. It is now up to him to keep this promise.