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Benoit Paire levels his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Hubert Hurkacz at 1-1.

Paire Sets All-French Auckland Final

First French champion to be crowned in Auckland

Benoit Paire avenged his Winton-Salem Open final loss to Hubert Hurkacz on Friday, beating the sixth seed 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-2 at the ASB Classic to reach his ninth ATP Tour championship match.

The fifth seed broke Hurkacz’s serve on six occasions to level his ATP Head2Head against the Pole at 1-1. Paire improves to 8-5 at the ATP 250 event, where he also reached the quarter-finals in 2012.

“It was not easy. Not everything was perfect, but against Hubert it is never easy,” said Paire. “He is a very good player and a tough opponent, so I hope tomorrow will be better and I hope to enjoy [the final].”

The 30-year-old has been forced to work hard for a place in his maiden Auckland final, winning each of his four matches in deciding sets. Prior to his maiden win against Hurkacz, Paire also edged Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner, Thiago Monteiro and John Millman.

The Frenchman has won six of his seven matches to open the 2020 ATP Tour season. Competing as the No. 2 singles player for France, Paire won two of his three matches in Group A at the inaugural ATP Cup.

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Paire’s win guarantees a first French champion in Auckland, following Ugo Humbert’s 7-6(5), 6-4 win against John Isner. Paire rallied from a set down to defeat his countryman in their only previous ATP Head2Head encounter in Winston-Salem last year.

“I am very happy to play against a compatriot tomorrow,” said Paire. “He is a very nice guy and we will see, but I am very happy to be in the final. It was the first time for me in the semi-finals and now the first time for me in the final.”

Humbert won each of his 38 first-serve points against two-time champion Isner to reach his maiden ATP Tour championship match. The 21-year-old is through to his first final on his fourth attempt, following semi-final losses in Marseille, Newport and Antwerp last year.

”I am really happy about this win,” said Humbert. “It was a great match. I returned very well and I played good [on the] key points. I am really, really happy to reach my first final.”

The World No. 57 has defeated two of the Top 4 seeds in Auckland to reach the final. After wins over in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud and Marco Cecchinato, Humbert also beat second seed Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals.

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