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Challenger Weekly Spotlight: Bolelli Wins Title In Comeback Debut

Bozoljac© Robert DavisIlija Bozoljac executed a sensational comeback in the Kolkata semi-finals en route to his fourth Challenger 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.


Trofeo Faip-Perrel (Bergamo, Italy): Unseeded wild card Simone Bolelli upset top seed Dustin Brown and No. 2 seed Jan-Lennard Struff in the semi-finals and final to claim the title on home soil. Bolelli, the 2006 and 2007 runner-up in Bergamo, defeated Struff 7-6(6), 6-4 for his ninth ATP Challenger Tour crown. It was the Italian’s first tournament in seven months, having been sidelined with a wrist injury,

State Bank of India ATP Challenger Tour (Kolkata, India): The Indian swing continued as an unseeded Ilija Bozoljac ran away with the Kolkata title, routing six-time Challenger champion Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-1 in the final. It was the 28 year old’s fourth title on the Challenger circuit, snapping a six-match losing streak in finals. Bozoljac turned in a remarkable comeback in the semis, battling back from a 0-6, 0-3 30/40 deficit to stun top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov.

Read inside look from Kolkata

Open BNP Paribas Banque de Bretagne (Quimper, France): Seventh seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Vincent Millot 7-6(5), 6-3 in an all-French battle to clinch his maiden Challenger title in his first final. Herbert also won the doubles title alongside countryman Albano Olivetti. The 22 year old made a splash on the ATP World Tour last year at the Paris Masters, upsetting then World No. 26 Benoit Paire in the first round as a qualifier.

Simone Bolelli made a triumphant return to professional tennis following a seven-month injury layoff. Photo credit: Antonio Milesi

What the Players are Saying
Bozoljac: “In the semis I was down 0-6, 0-3 30/40, and I was thinking, 'ok, can you win a game here?' I just wanted to win a game. And then I somehow won that game, and then another game and the set and the match. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know.

“Before the final, I warmed up with Somdev [Devvarman] and I did not miss a ball. Then in the match I think that I might have made one unforced error in the first set. All respect to my opponent, but I just felt that I could not lose. It happens sometimes. It is not joy or relief to win. I have not won a Challenger since 2009. It is more a validation. A sense of inner-peace.”

Bolelli: “"Playing here was crucial. The crowd helped me in difficult moments and I don't know if I would have reacted the same way if I was playing in another country.

"I improved a lot during the week. I started a bit slow, then I think I gradually played better. To win a tournament in my return is a big step."


The Indian swing concludes in New Delhi as Bozoljac looks to capture his second consecutive title. Alexandr Nedovyesov is the top seed and is joined by recent Heinbronn champion Peter Gojowczyk, seeded third.

In Astana, Kazakhstan, top seed and two-time champion (2008-09) Andrey Golubev looks to claim the title on home soil. Russian teen sensation Karen Khachanov makes his 2014 debut.

Meanwhile, at the inaugural tournament in Morelos, Mexico, Victor Estrella Burgos leads a field that includes American Rajeev Ram and No. 2 seed Andrej Martin, of Slovakia.

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