September 25, 2022

Two French left-handers won the ATP Challenger Tour titles on Sunday. Ugo Humbert beat former US Open Dominic Thiem at home in Rennes to win his seventh Challenger title while Corentin Moutet triumphed at the Szczecin Challenger to claim his second Challenger title of the season (Lyon).

French players have now won 17 Challenger Tour titles this season, equaling Argentina’s season record.

Humbert repelled all 21 break points encountered last week en route to capturing the Open Blot Rennes. In the league match, the 24-year-old picked up a comfortable 6-3, 6-0 win over Thiem.

“I’m super happy, it was a very big game. A final is never easy, I managed to raise my level of play today,” said Humbert. “I couldn’t have hoped for better, I had been looking for this level for a long time. I managed to play well on the important points and I felt that I managed to crack him. Ending the week like this is very strong. I worked hard to get to this level of play.”

The Frenchman has won his last nine finals across the board, including the 2021 ATP 500 event in Halle (d. Rublev), which propelled the southpaw to No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings. This week was Humbert’s first final appearance since winning the title in Halle and his first Challenger final appearance since October 2019 (Brest).

Humbert, who holds three tiers of the Tour, started this season with a win over then-world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the season opener of the ATP Cup. This summer, he reached three consecutive Challenger semi-finals: Pozoblanco, Segovia and Vancouver. Humbert’s title on home soil this week propels him to 110th in the Pepperstone ATP rankings.

“The Challengers are so tough that over time I knew it was going to make me smile,” Humbert said. “In the end, it’s this week and in France, which makes it even better. I want to finish in the Top 100 and be on the table for a Grand Slam. When I play at this level, I can hope for better. »

Thiem, 29, was competing in his third Challenger event of the year as he seeks to regain form after suffering a wrist injury last season which forced him to miss nine months. In his semi-final match, he beat top seed Hugo Gaston 6-2, 7-5.

At the Peko Szczecin Open, Moutet won his sixth Challenger title, beating Austrian Dennis Novak 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the final.

The 23-year-old arrived in Poland after reaching the fourth round of the US Open, where he lost to eventual finalist Casper Ruud in four sets. The title propels the Frenchman to world No. 64, a career high.

<a href=Corentin Moutet wins his second Challenger title this season.” />
Corentin Moutet wins his second Challenger title this season. Credit: Peko Szczecin Open

“I’m really happy to win here, especially today, it was a really tough game,” said Moutet. “Every time I play against Dennis, it’s a tough fight, so I’m really happy to have won this time. After the US Open, it’s a good result for the first tournament on clay. I feel feeling healthy and still feeling fresh for next week.

In the final, Moutet avenged his 2021 loss to Novak, who won in a three-hour, 10-minute clash at the Challenger in Orleans. It was another close battle in Szczecin as the Frenchman kept his composure and converted 7/14 break points into triumph.

At the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, North Carolina, local favorite Michael Mmoh beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-3 to win his first Challenger title since 2019. The 24-year-old, who has six titles Challenger (all at home), climbs to 133rd place in the Pepperstone ATP rankings and is aiming for a strong end to the season.

“I have gear I can work towards, which is exciting, but I still played this game at a high level,” Mmoh said. “When the opportunities were there to be taken, I took them. Whoever changed direction first with a good ball won the point.

“At the start of this year, I said my goal was to finish in the Top 100. After this event and the momentum I have, that goal still stands.”

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American Michael Mmoh claims the Cary Challenger. Credit: Atlantic Tire Championships

Mmoh, who won the Tallahassee Challenger in April and reached the semifinals in Cleveland and Malaga, reached career world No. 96 in October 2018 after winning back-to-back titles in Columbus, Ohio and Tiburon, Calif.

Moldovan Radu Albot needed just 66 minutes to beat Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-0, winning 21/23 points on his first delivery to win the Istanbul Challenger TED Open.

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Radu Albot takes the title in Istanbul, Turkey. Credit: Istanbul Challenger TED Open

Second-seeded Albot won his ninth Challenger title and his first this season. In 2019, the 32-year-old earned a personal-best 31 Tour-level wins, including his first ATP Tour title at Delray Beach (d. Evans, saving 3 MPs), and reached a career-high No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP ranking.

Rosol ousted top-seeded Australian James Duckworth in the first round and didn’t drop a set en route to the final in Turkey.

ATP Challenger Tour