Grigor Dimitrov and Ugo Humbert set the title clash at the ATP 250 event in Marseille. The 2nd seed Dimitrov met the 3rd seed Karen Khachanov and prevailed 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and 57 minutes after a massive battle. Two rivals stayed neck and neck in the deciding set before the Bulgarian clinched a tie break, advancing to his 19th ATP final.
Grigor fired 19 aces and played better behind the first and second serve. He denied four out of six break points and secured three breaks from eight opportunities. Karen made a reliable start and broke at 15 in the first game of the encounter.
The Russian held at 15 in game two with a service winner, cementing the lead and settling into a fine rhythm. Khachanov missed game points in the fourth game and faced a break point after a volley error at the net. Dimitrov squandered it with a weak backhand and gifted the game to his rival after another loose backhand.
Grigor painted a backhand down the line winner in the fifth game holding at love and reducing the deficit. Karen served well in the eighth game, firing a service winner and holding at love for 5-3. The Bulgarian faced two set points on serve in the ninth game and denied them with aces down the T line.
Dimitrov gained confidence and created three break points in the tenth game. The 2nd seed seized the second after the rival's backhand mistake, pulling the break back and locking the result at 5-5. Khachanov held after deuce in game 12 and introduced a tie break.
The Russian moved 5-3 up after the Bulgarian's slice error and created three set points when Grigor sent a volley long. Karen seized the first with a service winner, wrapping up the opener in 65 minutes and gathering a boost.
Dimitrov painted a backhand down the line winner at the beginning of the second set and clinched a break after Khachanov's backhand mistake. Grigor landed a backhand down the line winner in the second game, holding at love and cementing the lead.
They served well in the following game, and the Bulgarian looked good to open a 4-2 gap. The 2nd seed squandered game points and sprayed a forehand error to drop serve and bring his rival back to 3-3.
Grigor Dimitrov and Ugo Humbert reached the title clash in Marseille.
Instead of building on that, Khachanov placed a forehand losing in the seventh game, getting broken for the second time and falling behind.
Dimitrov denied a break point in the eighth game with a smash winner and held for 5-3. The Bulgarian served for the set in game ten and fired a service winner, wrapping up the set 6-4 and forcing a decider after an hour and 55 minutes.
Karen denied a break point at the beginning of the final set with a smash winner at the net, avoiding an early setback. They settled into a fine rhythm behind the initial shot in the rest of the set, with Dimitrov locking the result at 3-3 with a hold at love in game six.
Khachanov fired a service winner in the ninth game, moving 5-4 in front and forcing Dimitrov to serve to stay in the match. Grigor landed a service winner for a vital hold and produced another at 5-6, introducing a deciding tie break.
Khachanov passed Dimitrov at the net in the sixth point, moving 4-2 in front. Grigor bounced back and secured four straight points for a 6-4 advantage, earning two match points. The Russian saved the first before spraying a forehand error on the second, propelling the Bulgarian into the final.
The home favorite Ugo Humbert celebrated his tenth top-10 victory, beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 22 minutes and joining Dimitrov in the final. Hurkacz dominated with his first serve, but the second let him down.
The defending champion squandered all three break chances and failed to defend any of two break points, ending his run in the semi-final.
One of the world's best servers experienced issues already in the first game of the encounter, with Humbert creating two break chances with a backhand winner at the net.
Hubert hit a double fault on the first, falling behind and trailing throughout the set. A left-hander secured the eighth game with a service winner and served for the set at 5-4. Humbert faced a break point and denied it with a booming serve.
The Frenchman fired another booming serve, taking the opener 6-4 after 37 minutes. They stayed neck and neck early in the second set before Ugo attacked in the fifth game and created a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner.
The Pole netted a routine forehand drive-volley, losing serve and moving closer to the exit door. Ugo faced a stern test in the eighth game, offering his rival two break points. The home favorite denied them and held with a crafty volley winner for 5-3.
Hurkacz prolonged the battle with a hold in game nine before Humbert sealed the deal with a forehand winner at 5-4, moving into the title clash in front of the partisan crowd.