CHALLENGER WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT 2014
Challenger Spotlight: Baghdatis Wins Eighth Crown In Vancouver
by Josh Meiseles|
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
Odlum Brown VanOpen (Vancouver, Canada): Marcos Baghdatis improved to 8-1 in ATP Challenger Tour finals, rallying from a break down in both sets for a 7-6(6), 6-3 win in Sunday's Vancouver final. The Cypriot, who is 72-25 on the circuit, also trailed 3-5 in the opening tie-break but fought back behind an impressive defensive display. The 29-year-old Baghdatis converted on his third championship point when Dustov misfired on a mid-rally backhand. It was the former World No. 8's second title of the year (Nottingham) and second in Vancouver, having defeated Xavier Malisse in 2009.
Meanwhile, Rik de Voest, who owns the record for most Challenger doubles titles (37), competed in his last tournament. De Voest saved a match point in a first round victory over Jason Jung before falling in three sets to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Open Castilla y Leon (Segovia, Spain): Top seed Adrian Mannarino cruised to the title in the 24th edition of the Segovia Challenger, located at the picturesque Villa de El Espinar. The Frenchman dropped a combined six games in the semi-finals and final, defeating Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes for the trophy. Mannarino, runner-up in both 2009 and 2010 in Segovia, improved to 7-7 in ATP Challenger Tour finals, capturing his second crown of the year (Manta).
Svijany Open (Liberec, Czech Republic): Andrej Martin (pictured left, photo credit: Ota Mrákota) rallied from a 1-6 deficit in both the quarter-finals (d. Darcis) and final, upsetting fourth seed Horacio Zeballos 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 for his fourth Challenger title and first in over a year. The 24-year-old Slovak won his 100th match on the circuit with a first round victory over Jonathan Eysseric. Top seed Pablo Cuevas, a two-time ATP World Tour champion in 2014 (Bastad, Umag) succumbed to Tsung-Hua Yang in the second round.
AL Tennis Tournament of Cortina (Cortina, Italy): One week after retiring from his third round match at the ATP World Tour 500 series event in Hamburg (stomach virus), Filip Krajinovic (pictured right, photo credit: Roberto Vanin) returned to the court with a vengeance, winning his second Challenger title of the year in Cortina. The seventh-seeded Serb held off Italian wild card Federico Gaio 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 in two hours and 36 minutes. The 22 year old began the year ranked outside the Top 220 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and will be on the doorstep of the Top 100 with the win.
What the Players are Saying
Baghdatis: "When you play guys you never played before, you feel they're more relaxed than you and they play very aggressive. I was very defensive all week and kept fighting and I'm very happy to come through. It means a lot. I'm grinding in there until I get back to where I want to be.
"[Vancouver is] amazing. There are no words. It's an amazing tournament. The sponsors, the staff, ball kids, everybody does a great job. It's a pleasure coming back."
Mannarino: (pictured below, photo credit: Alberto Simón) "It feels great. I want to thank everyone that supported me this week. I thank the sponsors and organisers that make all of this possible. I'm very happy to have been able to win here."
Menendez-Maceiras: "I congratulate Mannarino for the well-deserved victory. He demonstrated a high level of tennis above all yesterday and today. I am happy to have made the final."
Krajinovic: "I don't think I played a great match today, but I won and I'm happy about that. It was pretty difficult throughout the week because of the rain. It was mentally hard. Today I also had to finish my (semi-final) match against Troicki but it was just one set and it didn't take long. My opponent played a great match, especially at the beginning. I want to congratulate him on a great week. I won't say that I was lucky today but it was very tricky and I had to fight a lot. Now I just want to keep on with the good job and stay focused."
Gaio: "I started very well, then my opponent began to play much better. At the end I can just say that it's been an amazing week for me and I can be very satisfied and think positive. I just want to think about the good things I've been putting together through the week. What I'm doing right now is taking a total look at the situation and I'm very happy. I hope that this final could mean a brand new start for me and my career."
Tweet of the Week
Down a set, a break, and match point, I found a way to delay my retirement to another day winning 4-6,7-6,7-6. Big thanks to all the fans.— Rik de Voest (@RikdeVoest) July 29, 2014
The USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge concludes in beautiful Aptos, California. The Comerica Bank Challenger has been a staple event during the U.S. summer hard court swing since 1988, featuring former champions Daniel Nestor, Andy Murray and Steve Johnson. Mikhail Kukushkin and Marcos Baghdatis are the top seeds and 2006 titlist Alex Kuznetsov is also in the draw.
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The second ATP Challenger Tour stop in Prague in 2014 welcomes Diego Schwartzman, Andrey Kuznetsov and three-time champion Jan Hernych (2004-'05, 2008). Lukas Rosol topped Jiri Vesely in the Czech capital earlier in the year.
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Simone Bolelli looks to extend his ATP Challenger Tour win streak (15) as the top seed at the San Marino Go&Fun Open. The Italians are out in force with defending champion Marco Cecchinato, three-time titlist Potito Starace (2004, '07, '11) and 2008 champ Filippo Volandri all in the field.
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Watch free live streaming from the ATP Challenger Tour this week...
Aptos, California, U.S.A., Centre Court
Prague, Czech Republic, Centre Court
City of San Marino, San Marino, Centre Court