Pavlasek Enters Top 100 With Prague Title
Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to who’s in action in the week to come
A LOOK BACK
Citta’ Di Caltanissetta (Caltanissetta, Italy): More than 2,000 people came out to watch an all-Italian final that saw top seed Paolo Lorenzi save six championship points in defeating wild card Matteo Donati, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7). The final was the longest on the ATP Challenger Tour this year at two hours and 48 minutes. It gave the 34-year-old his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the year (having prevailed this January in Canberra, Australia) and 18th of his career. He also eclipsed 350 career match wins during the week, moving to 353-216.
Match Points Saved In 2016 Finals
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Although he wasn’t able to win his first ATP Challenger Tour title, the week was a success for Donati. Prior to Caltanissetta, he had won just four main draw matches all year on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Sparta Prague Open (Prague, Czech Republic): No. 6 seed Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic delighted the local crowd by defeating No. 3 seed Stephane Robert of France, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The win gave Pavlasek his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the year after finishing runner-up in three other events this year. He also recorded the biggest win of his career this week by defeating local favourite and World No. 59 Lukas Rosol in the quarter-finals. Pavlasek becomes the ninth player this year to break into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Robert was looking for his second Challenger title of the year, having won the $50,000 event this February in New Delhi, India. He has more than cut his ranking in half this season to be ranked inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Aegon Surbiton Trophy (Surbiton, England): No. 3 seed Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei completed his return from elbow surgery by defeating qualifier Marius Copil of Romania in this grass-court final, 7-5, 7-6(11). Lu led 5-4 in the first set before rain forced the match to be moved to an indoor hard court. The win gives Lu an unprecedented 23rd ATP Challenger Tour title and his first on grass. He has now reached back-to-back finals on grass, having finished as runner-up last week at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Manchester.
Challenger Title Leaders
Despite the loss, Copil achieved his best result of the year in reaching his first final of 2016. Qualifiers are now 1-6 in finals this year on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Open Sopra-Steria De Lyon (Lyon, France): In just his third tournament since undergoing wrist surgery in February, No. 8 seed Steve Darcis of Belgium stormed through the final stages of the championship match against No. 4 seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil to take the title, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. The 32-year-old showed his resilience throughout the week by prevailing in four three-set matches. This is his seventh career ATP Challenger Tour title.
Monteiro was looking for his second career ATP Challenger Tour title, having won last month in Aix-en-Provence, France. The 22-year-old has jumped well over 300 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings since the start of the year.
Hoff Open (Moscow, Russia): Top seed Mikhail Kukushkin won back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles with a convincing win in the final over Steven Diez of Canada, 6-3, 6-3. The 28-year-old also won last week at the $125,000 event in Prostejov, Czech Republic. He was in peak form at the latter stages of the tournament, dropping just 10 games in his final three matches. Kukushkin is now on a 15-match win streak on the ATP Challenger Tour, having also prevailed last July in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Despite the loss, Diez can be satisfied with reaching his second ATP Challenger Tour final, with his other runner-up showing coming in Noumea in January 2014. He has climbed over 500 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the past 12 months.
WHAT THEY SAID
Lu: "I'm very happy, especially to make the final last week and come here this week and focus on each match one by one."
"I’m really happy with the way I’m playing on the grass this season. I didn’t put high expectations in the first two tournaments, but I got used to it very quickly and played good games over the last two weeks. There’s still a while to go to Wimbledon, so I hope I can keep in this condition."
A LOOK AHEAD
Five $50,000 Challengers take over the calendar this week. The third and final event on the ATP Challenger Tour’s grass court run through England will commence in Ilkley. The tournament is back for the second consecutive year and features world No. 90 Jordan Thompson of Australia as the No. 1 seed. Lu, the second seed, will recreate his final with Copil in Surbiton when they square off in the first round. Other notable names in the draw include American Bjorn Fratangelo, the No. 3 seed this year, and #NextGen star Quentin Halys of France.
The Challenger in Perugia, Italy, returns for the second consecutive year. World No. 83 Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil is the No. 1 seed and Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain is the No. 2 seed. #NextGen star Elias Ymer of Sweden, the No. 3 seed, has a tricky opening round in local favourite and last year’s runner-up Matteo Viola. Donati is also in the draw and will look to continue his form from Caltanissetta. Other notable names in the draw include former Top 25 player Filippo Volandri of Italy.
The event in Poprad Tatry, Slovakia, is also back for the second straight year. Local favourite and World No. 51 Martin Klizan is the top seed, while World No. 92 Horacio Zeballos of Argentina is the No. 2 seed and World No. 98 and #NextGen star Karen Khachanov of Russia is the No. 3 seed. Other notable names include defending champion Pavlasek, who looks to replicate his run in Prague as the No. 5 seed, and No. 6 seed Gerald Melzer of Austria, a winner of three ATP Challenger Tour titles this year. A major name in the qualifying draw is former World No. 8 Jurgen Melzer of Austria, who is competing in his first tournament since having shoulder surgery after last year’s US Open.
The tournament in Blois, France, returns for the fourth consecutive year. Former Top 25 player Albert Montanes of Spain is the No. 1 seed and Carlos Berlocq of Argentina is the No. 2 seed. Monteiro and Darcis will look to continue their form from Lyon as the No. 4 and No. 6 seeds, respectively. Another notable name in the draw is local favourite and defending champion Mathias Bourgue, this year’s No. 7 seed.
Lastly, the event in Fergana, Uzbekistan, returns for the 17th consecutive year. Konstantin Kravchuk of Russia is the top seed and Radu Albot of Moldova is the second seed. Other notable names in the draw include former Top 70 player Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia and Sam Barry of Ireland, who reached the final last month at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bangkok.
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