Humbert Downs Thiem To Claim Rennes ATP Challenger Title
Two French lefties won ATP Challenger Tour titles Sunday. Ugo Humbert defeated former US Open Dominic Thiem on home soil in Rennes to win his seventh Challenger title while Corentin Moutet triumphed at the Szczecin Challenger to claim his second Challenger title of the season (Lyon).
Players from France have now won 17 Challenger Tour titles this season, tying Argentina’s season-leading mark.
Humbert fended off all 21 break points faced this past week en route to capturing the Open Blot Rennes. In the championship match, the 24-year-old cruised to a comfortable 6-3, 6-0 victory over Thiem.
“I'm super happy, it was a very big match. A final is never easy, I managed to raise my level of play today,” Humbert said. “I couldn't have hoped for better, I had been looking for this level for a long time. I managed to play well on the important points and I felt that I had managed to crack him. To finish the week like this is very strong. I worked hard to get to this level of play.”
The Frenchman has won his past nine finals at all levels, including the ATP 500 event in Halle in 2021 (d. Rublev), which propelled the lefty to a career-high No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. This week was Humbert’s first appearance in a final since claiming the title in Halle and his first Challenger final appearance since October 2019 (Brest).
Humbert, who holds three Tour-levels, began this season with a win over then-World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev at the season opening ATP Cup. This summer, he reached three straight Challenger semi-finals: Pozoblanco, Segovia, and Vancouver. Humbert’s title on home soil this week lifts him to No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“The Challengers are so tough, over time I knew it was going to bring a smile to my face,” Humbert said. “In the end, it's this week and in France, which makes it even better. I want to finish in the Top 100 and be on the table for a Grand Slam. When I play at this level, I can hope for better things.”
Thiem, 29, was competing in his third Challenger event of the year as he looks to return to form after suffering a wrist injury last season that forced him to miss nine months. In his semi-final match, he defeated top-seed Hugo Gaston 6-2, 7-5.
At the Peko Szczecin Open, Moutet claimed his sixth Challenger title, defeating Austrian Dennis Novak 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the final.
The 23-year-old arrived in Poland after reaching the fourth round of the US Open, where he lost to eventual finalist Casper Ruud in four sets. The title lifts the Frenchman to a career-high World No. 64.
Corentin Moutet claims his second Challenger title this season. Credit: Peko Szczecin Open
“I'm really happy to win here, especially today, it was a really hard match,” Moutet said. “Every time I'm playing against Dennis it is a hard fight, so I am really glad that I won this time. After the US Open, it is a good result for the first tournament on clay. I feel healthy and I still feel fresh for the next week.”
In the final, Moutet avenged his 2021 loss to Novak, who won in a three hour, 10 minute clash at the Orleans Challenger. It was another tight battle in Szczecin as the Frenchman held his nerve and converted 7/14 break points to triumph.
At the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, North Carolina, home favourite Michael Mmoh took down German Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-3 to capture his first Challenger title since 2019. The 24-year-old, who boasts six Challenger titles (all on home soil), rises to No. 133 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and sets his sights on a strong finish to the season.
“I have a gear I can work up towards, which is exciting, but I still played this match at a high level,” Mmoh said. “When the opportunities were there to be taken, I took them. Whoever changed direction first with a good ball was winning the point.
“At the beginning of this year, I said my goal was to finish Top 100. After this event and the momentum I have, that goal is still alive.”
Mmoh, who won the Tallahassee Challenger in April and reached the semi-finals in Cleveland and Malaga, reached a career-high World No. 96 in October 2018 after collecting back-to-back titles in Columbus, Ohio and Tiburon, California.
Albot, seeded second, claimed his ninth Challenger title and his first this season. In 2019, the 32-year-old earned a personal-best 31 Tour-level wins, including his first ATP Tour title at Delray Beach (d. Evans, saving 3 MPs), and climbed to a career-high No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Rosol ousted top-seeded Australian James Duckworth in the first round and didn’t drop a set en route to the final in Turkey.