© KPIT-MSLTA Challenger

Sadio Doumbia captures his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Pune.

Doumbia Reflects On Breakthrough Week In Pune

Frenchman takes less-traveled path to Challenger success

Sadio Doumbia hasn’t taken a traditional path to being a professional tennis player, but has quickly been making up for his late start to the ATP Challenger Tour.

The 26-year-old from France won his first ATP Challenger Tour title this past Sunday at the $50,000 event in Pune, India. Ranked No. 359 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he rallied from a set down to defeat eighth seed and local favourite Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the final. In addition to coming back from a set down in four of his five matches, Doumbia also captured his first victory over a Top 200 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings by defeating top seed Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the quarter-finals.

“It’s my first Challenger title, so it’s an amazing feeling,” said Doumbia. “I could fortunately play good tennis for the whole week, so I’m super excited and super happy.”

Doumbia only began competing in pro tournaments on a full-time basis at age 24. He initially played college tennis at Auburn University Montgomery before transferring to the University of Georgia. After completing his senior season in 2012, he enrolled in a study abroad program at Oxford University before graduating in 2013 with two business administration degrees, one in risk management and another in insurance and finance.

The Frenchman has primarily played in ITF Futures events since turning pro, but his victory in Pune means he will now be a staple in Challengers.

“I think Challenger players are more physically fit,” said Doumbia. “They’re more structured mentally and take better preparation so they’re ready for matches.”

Doumbia's victory saw him jump more than 100 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings to his current career-high standing of No. 253. The Frenchman had no time to celebrate his victory in Pune because he had to catch a flight back home to France, but is hopeful he can lift up more trophies in India in the future.

“This was a very good tournament. It was my first time in India and I love this country,” said Doumbia. “I really felt welcomed by the Indian people.”

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