ATP Auckland: Ugo Humbert tops John Isner to set all-French final vs. Paire


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ATP Auckland: Ugo Humbert tops John Isner to set all-French final vs. Paire

In the battle of former doubles partners, the 5th seed Benoit Paire defeated the 6th seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 in an hour and 49 minutes, advancing into the ninth ATP final. Hurkacz toppled Paire in Winston-Salem final in 2019 but couldn't maintain a perfect score in 2020, getting broken no less than six times and earning only three breaks, not enough for a more favorable result.

Despite hitting 12 aces and ten double faults, Paire played better on the first serve and in the crucial moments, recovering after a poor second set tie break and controlling the pace in the decider to stay on the title course.

The Frenchman made the best possible start, securing a break at love in the first game of the match and extending the lead to a 5-2 when Hubert hit a double fault in the seventh game. Paire couldn't serve out for the set at first glance, fixing that with four winners in the tenth game for a 6-4.

They traded breaks in games five and six in set number two and served well in the remaining games to bring a tie break where the Pole scored much-needed three mini-breaks, closing the set after a point penalty for Paire who lost the temper in an argument with the chair umpire.

Leaving those scenes behind him, Benoit found his best tennis in the deciding set again, scoring three breaks and sealing the deal after a double fault from Hubert in the eighth game. In the second semi-final, the young gun Ugo Humbert took down a former champion John Isner 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes, avenging that tight loss from Newport last July when John went on to claim the title.

It will be Ugo who will compete for the first ATP trophy on Saturday, delivering an incredible performance on the first serve (winning all 38 points) and never facing a break point. Isner earned tough wins over Tennys Sandgren and Kyle Edmund but it wasn't to be for him today, taking only six points on the return and offering too many chances to Ugo to stay in touch, despite a tight opener.

The returners took 12 points in total in the first set and it was one mini-break that decided the winner when Isner sprayed a forehand error in the second point. Delivering one good serve after another, Ugo fired a service winner at 6-5 to claim the set and gather a massive momentum ahead of set number two where he continued to throw bombs from his initial shot.

He broke John in the very first game after a double fault from the American, wasting five more chances at 4-2 but moving over the top with a hold at love in game ten following an impressive day at the office.