Humbert: 'It's Important For Me To Leave A Mark'
Ugo Humbert has already checked off several of his personal goals this year. The 22-year-old clinched his first ATP Tour title in Auckland (d. Paire) and achieved his current career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 42.
But for the humble Frenchman, his on-court achievements aren’t a surprise. They’re a result of the hard work he’s put in since he first picked up a racquet at age five.
”If I’m here today, I don’t think it’s unbelievable because I wanted it to happen and I worked really hard for it,” Humbert told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. "I always dreamed of doing this, so when I take decisions, I don’t forget why I’m doing them. It’s because I want to be a tennis player. For me, it’s important. It’s not a sacrifice.”
Humbert’s father was an avid recreational player and introduced his son to the sport. He took an immediate liking to it and quickly decided that he wanted to play professionally. By age 12, Humbert had left home to train with the French Tennis Federation in Poitiers.
”I was living in Metz, so it wasn’t close and I had to take the train for four hours,” Humbert said. “I was lucky that my parents gave me the choice to leave. I took the decision to leave because it was really what I wanted to do.”
Although Humbert’s determination was never in doubt, his body couldn’t withstand the demands of training in his early teenage years. A string of injuries related to growth spurts kept him off the court for 18 months and made his future in the sport unclear.
Humbert, then a teenager, began returning home to Metz on the weekends while his peers competed in tournaments. He briefly considered quitting, but his love for the sport convinced him to try to get back on the court.
”Sometimes I thought about stopping, but when I told my parents, they said it was my decision,” Humbert said. “I liked what I did, so I kept fighting and thinking I would play again soon. I already had a strong character then. That’s why the coaches believed in me and kept me even if I hadn’t played in a year."
When Humbert’s body allowed him to start training again, he quickly made up for lost time. By age 17, he cracked the Top 20 of the ITF Junior Rankings. By age 18, he was already making noise in pro events and scored his first win over a Top 100 player at the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.
A solid 2018 season on the ATP Challenger Tour yielded three titles and set him up for his ATP Tour breakthrough last year. He entered January ranked just outside of the Top 100, but finished the year by qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. His other highlights included tour-level semi-finals in Marseille, Newport and Antwerp, reaching the second week at Wimbledon and scoring three victories over Top 15 players.
But Humbert isn’t content to rest on past results. He’s known as one of the hardest-working players on Tour and is determined to do whatever it takes to continue climbing the rankings.
”Tennis is a game for me. It’s fun. That’s why I love it, but it’s also a personal challenge for me. It’s more like a fulfillment,” Humbert explained. “I want to prove that I can do great things in this sport. It’s also because of this that I love tennis, practising and fighting every day against my opponents.
”I was lucky to have the right people around me and make the right decisions. I think it’s important for me to leave a mark. I would like to show my values… I want people to see that I enjoy myself when they watch me. I want them to play as well, or at least that they want to try when they watch me.”