Match of the Day: Marin Cilic vs. Ugo Humbert, Paris Masters

Match of the Day: Marin Cilic vs. Ugo Humbert, Paris Masters

How much will the Frenchman have left in the tank after his epic three-hour win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday? According to the oddsmakers, this match is a borderline toss up.

If he didn’t already, Ugo Humbert should have your undivided attention. The 22-year-old, who is in the midst of a seven-match winning streak dating back to his Antwerp title run two weeks ago, stunned second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (4), 6-7 (8), 7-6 (3), on Tuesday. It was an instant classic, a match-of-the-year candidate that lasted nearly three and a half hours. 

“I’m super happy, super proud of myself,” the Frenchman said. “I was mentally very strong to win this match against Tsitsipas, one of the best players in the world.”

The victory marked Humbert’s fifth Top-15 win of the season. While Tsitsipas claimed a leg injury affected his performance, he was simply outplayed from start to finish. 

So how much does Humbert have in the tank ahead of his third-round clash with Marin Cilic on Thursday Despite receiving a much-needed day off, he is just a slight -145 favorite against the struggling Croatian—who is just 2-3 in his last five matches—according to the oddsmakers.

Cilic righted his sinking ship with a timely three-set win over Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round, then received a walkover after Corentin Moutet tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday. Perhaps Cilic’s two days off, coupled with Humbert’s exhausting marathon, is cause for concern for the Frenchman. But judging by the 22-year-old’s recent form, it shouldn’t matter much, if at all. 

Humbert’s compact stroke production, combined with his incredible timing, allows him to redirect balls right off the bounce.

He took his backhand sharp crosscourt early and often, frustrating Tsitsipas throughout the entire match. 

Not only was he consistently hitting his spots from a set position, his on-the-run shotmaking was superb. 

Few players cover the net as well as Tsitsipas, yet Humbert made these incredible passing shots look routine all match. 

“He was just creating a lot of opportunities from his forehand side and doing a lot of damage from there,” Tsitsipas said.

The Frenchman weighs just 160 lbs, yet overpowered the Greek from the baseline whenever he needed to, with screaming forehands like this. 

If powerful winners, on-the-rise redirection, and incredible passing shots aren’t enough, Humbert also owns the classic French flair, showcased here with his exceptional touch at net

Cilic's career is certainly trending in the wrong direction but it’s always unwise to discount a 6’6” Grand Slam champion on a quick indoor court—he owns eight career indoor hard-court titles. That confidence doesn't just disappear, which is why this matchup is so fascinating; Humbert looks good on paper, but the oddsmakers believe the Croatian has a great chance to pull off an upset. The margins will be slim, but in the end, expect the Metz native to keep his winning streak alive. 

The Pick: Ugo Humbert