Auckland - It was the "tournament of revenge" for rising star Ugo Humbert who
won his maiden ATP title beating Benoit Paire in a three-set thriller at
the Auckland Classic on Saturday.
In the all-French showdown, the
unseeded Humbert held his nerve in the deciding tie-break of his first
ATP final to beat the fifth seed 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5).
30-year-old Paire, No 21 in the world, was no stranger to playing a
decider, having been stretched to three sets in his four previous
matches in the tournament.
The 21-year-old Humbert, who a year ago
was ranked outside the top 100, started the tournament at No 57 and
the title advanced him to 43rd in the latest rankings.
played three sets in the first round against Casper Ruud and won his
next three matches in straight sets including wins over second-seed
Denis Shapovalov and fourth-seed John Isner.
"I really, really wanted to win it today and I did," said an elated Humbert.
"It was the tournament of revenge," he added having previously lost to four of the five players he beat in Auckland.
"It was a great improvement for me, I couldn't have dreamed of a better beginning of this year."
the first set of the final, Humbert broke Paire's opening serve, the
first of four breaks in the set, and was on the verge of wrapping up the
set at 6-5 with three break points only for Paire to fight his way out
of trouble and force the tie-break.
Humbert then quickly reasserted his dominance and comfortably took the tie-break 7/2.
tide turned in the second set for Paire who broke Humbert on a double
fault at 2-1 and maintained the advantage for force the third set
In their one previous meeting, Paire had rallied from a set down to beat Humbert in three sets at Winston-Salem last year.
But, in a tense final set Humbert was not to be denied a second time.
broke early, only for Paire to break back at 3-5, and both players then
held serve through to 6-6 when Humbert edged ahead with a point off
Paire's first serve in the tie-break and the match ended on a wide
backhand from the elder Frenchman.
Result from the final of the ATP Auckland Classic tennis tournament on Saturday:
Ugo Humbert (FRA) bt Benoit Paire (FRA x5) 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5)