Ugo Humbert celebrates at home in Cherbourg. Henri Laaksonen wins Bangkok

Tennis - This is the fourth Challenger crown for the young Frenchman while Laaksonen also lifted his fourth Challenger trophy

by Jovica Ilic
Ugo Humbert celebrates at home in Cherbourg. Henri Laaksonen wins Bangkok

* Cherbourg, France, €46,600+H (Indoor Hard) : The 20-year-old Ugo Humbert has won his fourth Challenger title in Cherbourg, losing a close match to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Montpellier in the previous week and going all the way here to become the youngest Frenchman with four Challenger titles since Richard Gasquet in 2003!

The Metz native had won two indoor Challenger crowns in Ortisei and Andria in the closing stages of the last season and he emerged as a winner of another tournament with a roof over his head, beating Steve Darcis 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes.

The Frenchman fired 11 aces and fended off all six break points he faced to keep the pressure on the more experienced Belgian who couldn't follow that pace in sets two and three, suffering three breaks from ten opportunities he gave to Ugo to finish runner-up in his 14th Challenger final overall.

The saved nine break points combined in the opening set, including four set points that Steve repelled on serve at 4-5, saving another one at 5-6 in the tie break to grab it 8-6. Humbert stayed on a high level in service games in set number two and he broke Darcis in games five and nine to take it 6-3, gathering the momentum and scoring another break early in the second set for a crucial advantage.

Serving for the title, a left-handed Frenchman needed six match points in game nine but he seized the final one with a backhand winner to celebrate another great result and the place in the top-75 of the ATP rankings list.

* Bangkok, Thailand, $54,160+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 26-year-old Henri Laaksonen has also won the fourth Challenger title in Bangkok, defeating the Challenger legend Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4 in 66 minutes for the first crown since Champaign at the end of 2016.

The Swiss had the upper hand from start to finish, dropping six points on serve and never facing a break point to mount the pressure on the Israeli who was far from those numbers. Sela struggled with injuries in 2018 and this was indeed a great result on the comeback trail, playing in the 31st Challenger final and standing on 295 wins at this level of competition.

Henri needed just over 25 minutes to deliver the opening set, racing into a 4-0 lead and closing the opener with a hold at love in game eight. Sela bounced back after that initial setback and he had seven good holds by the end of the match, playing only one loose service game at 3-3 in the second set that cost him the win when Laaksonen sealed the deal with a hold at love in game ten.

Ugo Humbert Henri Laaksonen