Humbert, Etcheverry Cruise To Bordeaux Challenger Final
The 24-year-old Humbert continued his form by winning an all-French semi-final against Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-2 at the BNP Paribas Primrose. Humbert hammered any ball that his countryman left in the middle of the court, while also showing deft feel on numerous drop shots.
Despite getting broken in the opening game of the second set, the World No. 50 Humbert quickly regrouped to oust Gasquet in one hour, 16 minutes. Humbert, who beat another tour veteran, Stan Wawrinka, in the quarter-finals, delivered a strong-serving performance Friday, winning 75 per cent of first-serve points, compared to Gasquet’s 40 per cent.
When Humbert has competed at Challenger Tour events this year, he’s been a dominant force, tallying a 13-2 Challenger-match record. Earlier this month, the Metz native triumphed at the Cagliari Challenger, where he fended off two match points in his quarter-final against Taro Daniel to stay alive.
Humbert reached a career-high No. 25 in 2021 and will next aim for a second consecutive Challenger 175 crown Saturday, when he clashes against Etcheverry.
Should the Frenchman win a ninth Challenger title, he would return to the Top 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings for the first time since 31 January, 2022.
The heavy-hitting Etcheverry earned the highest-ranked win of his career by upsetting top seed and World No. 28 Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals.
The 23-year-old Etcheverry took a deep return stance that Struff often countered with a serve-and-volley. But the Argentine stayed steady from the baseline, displaying lethal inside-out forehands en route to a one-hour, 14-minute victory. Etcheverry dropped just one point on serve in the opening set and didn’t face a break point all match.
Tomas Martin Etcheverry signs autographs following a semi-final win in Bordeaux. Credit: Jared Wickerham/ATP Tour
Seeded seventh, Etcheverry has played his best tennis this season. He was a finalist at the ATP 250 events in Santiago and Houston and last month reached a career-high No. 59, which he is guaranteed to surpass this upcoming Monday. A three-time Challenger champion, the La Plata native will next attempt for his biggest career title against Humbert, who defeated him in five sets at Wimbledon last year.
Whoever lifts the trophy at the Challenger 175 event in Turin, Italy will have to complete double duty Saturday after rain cancelled the entirety of Friday’s schedule.
Top seed Sebastian Baez will face Italian qualifier Federico Gaio in the semi-finals at the Piemonte Open Intesa Sanpaolo while second seed Daniel Elahi Galan will clash against German Dominik Koepfer. The semi-finals will take place at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the final being not before 4:00 p.m.
Baez, who is playing in his first Challenger since March 2022, has captured both of his ATP tour-level titles and all six of his Challenger Tour trophies on clay. Earlier this season, the Argentine claimed the ATP 250 event on the red dirt in Cordoba and reached a career-high No. 30 last month.
Gaio, 31, will compete in his first Challenger semi-final since April 2022 and aim for his first Top-50 win since April 2021, when he defeated the-then World No. 35 Benoit Paire at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona.
The Colombian Galan was a semi-finalist at this month’s Challenger 175 event in Cagliari and finished runner-up last month at the Sarasota Challenger. The 26-year-old will battle against the in-form Koepfer, who has competed in three Challenger finals this year, including his triumph at the Mexico City Challenger in April.