France’s Ugo Humbert lived dangerously on Saturday when he saved four match points to beat Daniel Evans for a place in the European Open final.
Humbert, who saw a 3-0 lead evaporate in the second set, was forced to recover from 3/6 and 6/7 down in the tie-break by producing superb firepower en route to a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over Evans in three hours and 14 minutes.
Humbert, who captured his first ATP Tour title at the ASB Classic (d. Paire) in January, will now prepare to face fourth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov or eighth seed Alex de Minaur of Australia. Humbert has never met De Minaur, while Dimitrov leads the 22-year-old Frenchman 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
After three straight service breaks, Evans wrestled away control in the first set, which ended after 63 minutes when Humbert hit a backhand into the net. Once Evans bounced back from 0-3 down in the second set, the 30-year-old played with great poise and looked on course for his 18th victory of the season.
But Humbert stepped up his forehand aggression to save four match points in the tie-break, and at 7/7 ripped a forehand winner down the line that took the wind out of Evans’ sails. Humbert broke in the first game of the decider and held on, in spite of mounting pressure — particularly at 5-4, for his 20th match win of 2020. Humbert converted his third match point with an aggressive forehand that Evans could not return cleanly.
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Humbert is the fourth Frenchman to reach the Antwerp final after 2016 champion Richard Gasquet, 2017 titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 2018 runner-up Gael Monfils.
Evans, who is now 16-12 on the season, had been attempting to advance to his third ATP Tour final (0-2) and his first since the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com (l. to Albot). The 30-year-old Briton saved one match point against Karen Khachanov on Friday in the Antwerp quarter-finals.