Gasquet Rediscovers Winning Ways In Poland
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
Pekao Szczecin Open (Szczecin, Poland): Frenchman Richard Gasquet capped a brief return to the ATP Challenger Tour with a triumph in the Szczecin final, defeating former World No. 18 Florian Mayer 7-6(3), 7-6(4). Gasquet had entered the event to pick up some valuable match play having struggled recently with injuries. It was his first appearance in Szczecin since 2004 and improved his record in Challenger finals to 9-1. This was Gasquet’s first Challenger title since Bordeaux 2010. The Frenchman had saved a match point to beat Guido Andreozzi in the quarter-finals on Friday and did not drop a set thereafter. The World No. 30 is the highest-ranked Challenger winner since then No. 20 Benoit Paire won in Mouilleron le Captif, France, in 2015.
Road To The Shanghai Rolex Masters (Shanghai, China): A week after lifting the US Open junior singles and doubles trophies, Wu Yibing made history on home soil, becoming the youngest Chinese champion on the Challenger circuit. Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu was bidding for a record 30th ATP Challenger Tour title but was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury after Yibing won the first set in a tie-break, 7-6(6). The Chinese teenager did not drop a set all week and is projected to rise 177 spots to a career-high No. 319 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He is the 12th teenage winner of the year and fourth aged 17 and under, joining Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Nicola Kuhn.
American Express Istanbul Challenger (Istanbul, Turkey): Top-seeded Tunisian Malek Jaziri won four straight three-set matches to successfully defend his Istanbul crown. After defeating Israel’s Dudi Sela in last year’s final he repeated his triumph with a 7-6(4), 0-6, 7-5 victory over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in what was the tournament’s 30th edition. Jaziri becomes the fourth repeat winner this year on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Banja Luka Challenger (Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina): German Maximilian Marterer picked up the third Challenger title of his career with a routine 6-1, 6-2 result over 20-year-old Spanaird Carolos Taberner. The 22-year-old Marterer needed 59 minutes to claim his first title of the season, converting all four break chances. He did not drop a set all week. Taberner was appearing in his first Challenger final.
Atlantic Tire Championships (Cary, U.S.A.): Kevin King’s comeback continues to gather steam with the American winning his first Challenger title. Having missed the entire 2016 season due to hip surgery, the 26 year old defeated Brit Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-1 in what was his maiden appearance in a Challenger final. King had beaten top seed Ernesto Escobedo in the second round for his biggest career win. His triumph makes him the sixth different American Challenger winner of 2017, joining Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren, Ryan Harrison, Noah Rubin and Michael Mmoh. Victory also ensures he will surge 181 spots up the Emirates ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 253.
Four Challenger events will take place this week, headed by $75,000 events, the TEB Izmir Cup in Turkey and the Columbus Challenger, in the United States. Tunisian Malek Jaziri is top seed in Izmir and will look to continue his winning streak in Turkey, after claiming the Challenger title in Istanbul on Sunday. #NextGenATP Kazakh Alexander Bublik is seeded second. Unseeded Marsel Ilhan returns to defend his title. Last year, he defeated Cem Ilkel in an all-Turkish final after finishing runner-up three times previously.
French No. 127 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Quentin Halys, heads the seeds in Columbus, ahead of Indians Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri, with American Denis Kudla fourth. Stefan Kozlov downed Tennys Sandgren in an all-American final last year.
Canada’s Peter Polansky leads the seedings for the second Gwangju Challenger after top-seeded Australian Jordan Thompson’s withdrawal. Polansky has made three successive ATP Challenger Tour finals already this year. Australia’s Matthew Ebden and #NextGenATP Korean local Duckhee Lee are seeded No. 3 and No. 4 respectively for the $50,000 event in South Korea. Lithuanian Ricadas Berankis defeated Grega Zemlja for the inaugural Gwangju Open title last season.
Finally, the $50,000 Sibiu Open in Romania returns for the sixth year with German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe continuing his long comeback from injury. Fresh from Davis Cup semi-final duties for Serbia, Laslo Djere will be the No. 2 seed with former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo and #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud also in the draw. Dutchman Robin Haase won last year’s event.