Humbert Gets Revenge In Delray Beach
Sixth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert needed all of his fighting qualities on Thursday at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, erasing a set point to battle past #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6(6) and move into the quarter-finals.
Humbert broke Kecmanovic as the Serbian served for the second set at 6-5, then fought back from 5/6 in the tie-break to prevail after one hour and 43 minutes. The Frenchman picked up his first win over Kecmanovic in their ATP Head2Head series (1-3), taking revenge after losing to the 20-year-old last week in New York.
”It’s always tough to play against Miomir because he’s a great player. He always plays at a high level against me,” Humbert said. “I lost to him last week and was a little bit stressed before the match, so I’m very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it's not easy every week.”
Humbert advanced to his third quarter-final of the year and moved to 8-3 this season. The 21-year-old captured his maiden ATP Tour title last month in Auckland (d. Paire).
"Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence," Humbert said. "I beat some great players, [but] I have to continue my improvements every day."
Next up for the sixth seed is 2018 champion Frances Tiafoe, who prevailed 7-5, 7-6(4) in an all-American clash with Tommy Paul. Tiafoe clawed back from 2-5 in the second set en route to reaching his first tour-level quarter-final this season. He defeated Humbert in their lone ATP Head2Head meeting during last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals.
”It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, it’s weird, [but] I thought it was a pretty good match overall,” Tiafoe said of playing Paul. “My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I’m starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match.”
Hot Shot: Tiafoe's Ferocious Forehand
Second-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic hammered 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to dismiss German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-5, 6-3. The 2017 runner-up improved to 6-3 this season and moved closer to his first ATP Tour title since 2016 Brisbane.
"I got lucky to get through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him… It opened up the match for me a bit more,” Raonic said. “I’m a quarter-finalist now and that’s all that matters. I’ve got to make it count tomorrow night."
Raonic will now face Steve Johnson, who reached his first tour-level quarter-final in six months by scoring a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 win over good friend and fellow American Jack Sock. Johnson quickly regrouped after dropping the second set, charging to a 5-0 lead in the decider before advancing after two hours and five minutes. He improved to 3-4 in his ATP Head2Head series with Sock and has won their past two matches.
Hot Shot: Johnson On The Run
"This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year,” Johnson said. “It’s great to see [Sock] back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got a little bit of momentum in the third.”