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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday December 1, 2020

Ugo Humbert

France's Ugo Humbert proved that he's much more than a tricky lefty in 2020 by winning two titles and notching some big-name victories.

Photo Source: GEtty

As the 2020 tennis season winds down Tennis Now is looking back on the movers, shakers and achievers. We continue our series with a look at Ugo Humbert’s breakthrough rise in 2020.

More 2020 Season in Review: Victoria Azarenka | Ugo Humbert | Iga Swiatek | Andrey Rublev

What Made Humbert’s Season Special?

If forced to pin it down to one thing we’d have to say it was the two titles that made Humbert’s 2020 special, but it was more than just winning his maiden title in Auckland and then another later in the year in Antwerp that made us take notice of the Frenchman’s bristling game. It was his disruptive tennis, and his ability to persevere in tough matches against tough opponents despite his relative lack of experience.

Here’s a good example, one of many, that we will pull from the stat bucket:

Humbert entered the season with a 10-16 lifetime record in tiebreakers but went 14-6 in breakers in 2020. It’s a perfect indication of how well he performed under pressure.

What Were His Biggest Wins in 2020?

There were many. The 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 7-6(3) victory over Tsitsipas in Paris was a gem, but so was his upset of Fabio Fognini on the clay in Rome. Victories over John Isner and Denis Shapovalov during his Auckland run also stand out, as does the win over Daniil Medvedev in Hamburg, which was Humbert's first Top 5 win.

Humbert went 5-5 against the Top 20 and 11-8 against the Top 50 overall. He finished 2-2 against the Top 10.

What Was His Greatest Achievement in 2020?

The Antwerp title, in which he saved four match points to defeat Dan Evans in the semifinals, has to be the greatest achievement for Humbert in 2020. During that run, Humbert knocked off second-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round, which was a terrific victory against one of the steadiest players on tour in 2020. After Humbert defeated Evans in the aforementioned match point-saving effort, he then toppled Alex De Minaur in straight sets in the final. It was a command performance from the 22-year-old in many ways.

But the title in Auckland was a big one as well. There, after defeating Benoit Paire in the final, Humbert became the youngest French player to lift a trophy on tour since Richard Gasquet in 2007.

What Else Stood out about Humbert in 2020?

His ability to control the court with his serve and his rock-steady backhand. Humbert has a wicked can opener serve to the ad court that can pull his opponent far outside the tram lines and set him up for a classic serve-plus-one combination. But even when he isn’t getting the classic sitter to put away, Humbert demonstrates a high degree of shot tolerance, thanks to a steady and effective backhand and plus movement, especially for his size. Add to that an ability to close and finish points at the net, plus some truly feathery touch on the volley, and you have a true terror in the making.

That's why he was able to take down top players like Medvedev and Tsitsipas over the course of the season. Humbert presents beaucoup de problems for his opponents, and because of his sturdy mental game, he's ready to scrap for victories in close contests if the need arises.

What Is Humbert’s Year-End Ranking?

Humbert finishes the season at 30, and though he’ll have some points to defend for the first time in 2021, he only notched one win at the Grand Slam level which tells us that he has plenty of room to grow that ranking (though he does have week two points at Wimbledon which will come off).

What’s Next for Humbert?

Based on his progress, both mentally and physically, in 2020, we could be looking at the next Top 10 player from France. Not only is he devastating on fast hard courts, but he has already shown that he can thrive on grass. Add to that his blossoming clay game and you have a player that can be a threat on all three surfaces. His performance on clay in 2020 was a very pleasant surprise. He earned the aforementioned first career Top 5 win against Medvedev in Hamburg and went 4-3 overall on the surface.

Having just begun a new relationship with coach Nicolas Copin, who works at Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s All-In Academy, there is potential for Humbert to continue his progress and become an elite talent. The tools are there. The desire is there. The next few seasons will tell us more about his true upside, but at the moment, it seems the sky is the limit.


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