ATP / WTA: Ugo Humbert stays perfect in finals

French lefty knocks out big names to triumph in Dubai

Ugo Humbert / Champion Dubaï 2024©Ryan Lim / AFP
 - Reem Abulleil

Whether it was in Dubai, Acapulco, San Diego, Santiago, or Austin, the storylines that unfolded across the ATP and WTA tours last week were just incredible.

Here's what you may have missed from the week gone by in the world of professional tennis.

Ugo rules Dubai

Ugo Humbert has a motto to live by when approaching a championship match.

“The final, you don't have to play it, you have to win it,” the Frenchman says with a grin.

That mentality certainly explains how Humbert is a perfect 6-0 in ATP finals, his latest success coming last Saturday in Dubai, where he picked up the second 500-level title of his career with an impressive 6-4, 6-3 victory over Alexander Bublik.

Humbert is just the third man in the Open Era to win his first six tour-level finals, joining Ernests Gulbis and Martin Klizan.

The 25-year-old lefty’s title triumph was his second in four weeks, having also lifted the trophy in Marseille last month. He makes his top-15 debut this week, peaking at No.14.

“Tournament was so good. I'm super happy and proud to put my name with these legends. It's so good. But yeah, I'm happy. Now I'm top 15. It's really exciting,” said Humbert.

Perhaps even more impressive than Humbert’s record in finals was the high-profile list of opponents he knocked out en route to the title in Dubai.

The fifth seed came back from a set down to defeat fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils in his opening round, before taking out three-time Grand Slam champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray, saving three match points against the third-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, and dismissing defending champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev in the semis.

He improved his head-to-head against top-five players to 4-3, and explained why he has been effective against such opposition over the years.

“I think when I was a kid, I dreamed a lot to play these kind of matches on the stadium against the best players in the world,” said Humbert after upsetting the fourth-ranked Medvedev.

“When I go on court, I say to myself, ‘Okay, you can win, you can win’. That's why I think I'm really good against them.”

Meanwhile, Bublik has become the first player from Kazakhstan to crack the top 20 in ATP rankings history after reaching his second final of the season (he won Montpellier last month).

Ugo Humbert, Alexander Bublik, Dubai 2024© Jorge Ferrari/DDF Tennis

Paris on Andy’s mind

It was an eventful week in Dubai both on and off the court as Andy Murray revealed he is “likely not going to play past this summer”, giving the biggest indication yet that he plans on retiring in a few months’ time.

There was some good news shared by the Scot though as he said he intends to play Roland-Garros this year.

A finalist in Paris in 2016, Murray would be making his first appearance on the parisian terre battue since 2020.

“Last few years I've tried to give myself maybe better preparation for the grass season, but that also doesn't guarantee that you're going to play really well on the grass,” explained the 36-year-old.

“I've had experiences through my career where I didn't play Roland-Garros in 2013 and I won Wimbledon. I also played Roland-Garros and did really well in 2016. I don't think it makes a huge difference if you get an extra week's practice or so on the grass. So yeah, I would like to play one more time.”

Murray might make not one but two appearances in Paris as he also hopes to play the Olympics. He has won two gold medals in singles and one silver in mixed doubles at the Games.

Novak Djokovic Andy Murray Roland-Garros 2016

Big week for power couple Boulter and De Minaur

During the weekend, Alex de Minaur successfully defended his Acapulco title then dashed to take the first flight out of Mexico to catch his girlfriend Katie Boulter clinch a 500-level trophy of her own in San Diego, ensuring it was a double celebration for the dynamic duo.

Boulter claimed the biggest title of her career with a hard-fought 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over No.5 seed Marta Kostyuk in the final.

The 27-year-old Brit has earned herself a place in the top-30 for the first time and now owns seven wins over top-40 opponents in 2024.

“I want to say a small special thank you to my boyfriend,” Boulter said during the trophy ceremony. “He finished last night at midnight and I really want to embarrass him. “He got on a 4.15 taxi this morning and six o'clock flight to be here today, so I do appreciate it.”

De Minaur, a runner-up in Rotterdam last month, secured the eighth title of the year, and second consecutive in Acapulco, with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Casper Ruud in the final on Saturday.

The Australian is an impressive 15-4 win-loss so far this season and is the first player to defend the title in Acapulco since the event switched from clay to hard courts in 2014.

Baez on a roll

Argentina’s Sebastian Baez extended his ongoing winning streak to nine matches with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 result against home favourite Alejandro Tabilo in the Santiago final on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Baez, who picked up the biggest title of his career at the ATP 500 in Rio the previous week, has been rewarded with a place in the world’s top-20 for the first time – moved up to 19 on Monday – and he now stands firmly at No.6 in the ATP Race to Turin.

Meanwhile in Austin, 25-year-old Yuan Yue overcame her Chinese compatriot Wang Xiyu 6-4, 7-6(4) to capture the first WTA title of her career.

The Sunday clash was the first all-Chinese WTA final since Wang Qiang defeated Zheng Saisai for the Nanchang title in 2018.