World no. 2 Daniil Medvedev started the new season with a tight 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 loss to world no. 35 Ugo Humbert at the ATP Cup. The Frenchman prevailed after two hours and 55 minutes for his sixth top-10 victory, trailing 7-6, 3-0 and again in the decider before bouncing back and crossing the finish line first.
Since the beginning of 2020, Daniil had won 13 out of 14 singles encounters at the team competitions ahead of the Humbert duel, losing ground when it mattered the most and bouncing back in the doubles alongside Roman Safiullin to secure the overall victory for Russia over France.
Daniil won three points more than Ugo, but not the ones that mattered the most, delivering two breaks and losing serve three times to propel the opponent over the top. Humbert defended nicely and stayed in touch with Medvedev from the baseline, hitting well from both wings and finishing the points at the net.
Daniil Medvedev suffered a loss to Ugo Humbert in the season opener.
Daniil had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, but it was not enough to carry him home after losing ground in the more advanced rallies where Ugo had the upper hand.
The Frenchman used his tricky left serve and angles to move the rival from the comfort zone and impose his strokes to hit 40 winners and 65 unforced mistakes. Medvedev struggled with cramps in warm conditions and will face another formidable opponent in Alex de Minaur on Tuesday night.
Ugo netted a backhand in the encounter's third game to experience a break at 15 and push the rival in front. Daniil sprayed a forehand mistake in the next one to lose the advantage and bring the Frenchman back to the positive side.
There were no chances for the returners in the rest of the set, and Medvedev claimed the breaker 7-5 in 50 minutes following Humbert's double fault. The Russian grabbed a break in the second set's second game to open a 7-6, 3-0 lead and move closer to the finish line.
Instead, Humbert pulled the break back in game five and endured break points in the next one to level the score at 3-3. Daniil squandered game points at 5-5 and got broken after a terrible backhand from an ideal position that pushed his rival in front.
Ugo fended off a break chance in the 12th game and secured the set with a service winner to force a decider. Medvedev survived the third game and broke at love a few minutes later with a deep return to forge a 3-1 advantage.
Ugo broke back in the next game after Daniil's double fault, and the servers held everything under control in the rest of the set to introduce a tie break. Humbert played better and claimed it 7-2 with a backhand return winner for a career-best victory and the best start of the season.