© Francesco Panunzio

Sebastian Baez goes full stretch for a backhand at the Turin Challenger.

Baez Advances To Turin Challenger SFs

Humbert defeats Wawrinka in France

The top two seeds at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour 175 event in Turin, Italy are safely into the semi-finals, including World No. 40 Sebastian Baez.

The 22-year-old Argentine, seeded first, overcame a second-set slump Thursday to move past Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 at the Piemonte Open Intesa Sanpaolo.

Rain forced the match to be halted for 50 minutes midway through a lengthy second game that featured seven deuce points. Throughout the two-hour, 27-minute contest, Baez displayed smooth court coverage and didn’t face a break point in the decider to defeat the 23-year-old.

The Buenos Aires native Baez and the Brazilian Seyboth Wild were competing in doubles together this week. The duo defeated Sander Arends and Petros Tsitsipas in the opening round, before giving a walkover Thursday to Andrey Golubev and Denys Molchanov.

Baez 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. Playing in his first Challenger since March 2022, Baez will next clash against Italian qualifier Federico Gaio, who ousted Andrea Collarini 6-4, 6-3 in the quarters.

Second seed Daniel Elahi Galan encountered an Italian for the second consecutive day, but the Colombian saw off wild card and #NextGenATP star Flavio Cobolli 6-4, 7-5 to reach the Turin Challenger semi-finals.

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 next face the in-form German Dominik Koepfer, who defeated Edoardo Lavagno 6-3, 6-1 to advance Thursday.

Koepfer, 29, has competed in three Challenger finals this year, including his triumph at the Mexico City Challenger in April.

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In front of a packed stadium in southern France, the 24-year-old Ugo Humbert downed three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-1 at the BNP Paribas Primrose.

Wawrinka was aiming to back up his vintage performance Wednesday, when he ousted former World No. 1 Andy Murray 6-3, 6-0, but the Frenchman Humbert delivered a strong serving performance and fended off six of seven break points faced to advance.

Humbert, who reached a career-high No. 25 in 2021, has won 20 of his past 23 Challenger-level matches, including his triumph at this month’s Cagliari Challenger. He will meet countryman Richard Gasquet in Friday’s semi-finals.

Gasquet booked his ticket to the last four by defeating Mikael Ymer 7-6(14), 6-3. In the opening set, the Swede Ymer was down 3-5, 0/40 before pushing the home favourite to a tie-break. But the Frenchman prevailed, converting his ninth set point, after saving four set points in a marathon tie-break.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/richard-gasquet/g628/overview'>Richard Gasquet</a> celebrates a quarter-final win at the Challenger 175 event in Bordeaux, France.
Richard Gasquet celebrates a quarter-final win at the Challenger 175 event in Bordeaux, France. Credit: Jared Wickerham/ATP Tour

The 36-year-old Gasquet leads Humbert 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. A three-time tour titlist, Humbert won their most recent encounter in straight sets at this year’s Australian Open, exactly 12 months after Gasquet beat him at Melbourne Park.

Top seed Jan-Lennard Struff cruised past Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-2 after winning 21 of 27 first-serve points. The 33-year-old German, who was a finalist at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid, will next meet Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a ball-bashing semi-final at the Challenger 175 event.

Etcheverry, 23, earned a commanding 6-3, 6-3 quarter-final victory against Spainard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The seventh seed Etcheverry will aim for the highest-ranked win of his career Friday, when he meets World No. 28 Struff.

Watch Match Of The Day: Ugo Humbert vs Richard Gasquet (Bordeaux, NB 4:00 p.m. local)