© Johanna Jonsson

Dusan Lajovic picks up his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the year in Bastad.

Top Seed Lajovic Triumphs In Bastad

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

Bastad Challenger (Bastad, Sweden): Dusan Lajovic of Serbia lived up to his top seed status by taking the title over Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2, 7-6(4). The World No. 79 in the Emirates ATP Rankings picks up his fifth Challenger trophy and first since September 2015 in Banka Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Mayer drops to 0-2 in Challenger finals this year after also finishing runner-up this March in Buenos Aires (l. Daniel).

Sparkassen Open (Braunschweig, Germany): #NextGenATP player Nicola Kuhn of Spain shocked everyone by coming through qualifying to win his first Challenger title. The 17 year old ended the winning streak of Viktor Galovic, when the Croatian was forced to retire with Kuhn leading 2-6, 7-5, 4-2. Kuhn was forced to serve to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set.

At 17 years, three months, Kuhn is the second-youngest Challenger winner this season. It was also just the second Challenger tournament of his career, having reached the second round this past August in Meerbusch, Germany.

Galovic came through qualifying last week to win his first title in Recanati, Italy. Currently No. 471 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he is projected to move inside inside the Top 250 on Monday. Kuhn, ranked No. 501, will cut his ranking nearly in half as he is projected to jump to around No. 260.

Nielsen Pro Tennis Championships (Winnetka, Illinois): #NextGenATP player Akira Santillan of Australia won his first Challenger title over fifth seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-6(1), 6-2. The 20 year old was ranked No. 295 exactly 12 months ago, but is now projected to jump to around No. 155. Ramanathan is still seeking his first Challenger title.

Blue Panorama Tennis Cup (Perugia, Italy): Seventh seed Laslo Djere of Serbia prevailed in the final over Daniel Munoz De La Nava of Spain 7-6(2), 6-4. Djere’s first title of the year comes after a pair of runner-up finishes over the past two months in Vicenza and Poprad Tatry. The 35 year old Munoz De La Nava, who returned this February after missing seven months due to injury, was playing his first final since finishing runner-up at the 2015 ATP Challenger Tour Finals.

Claro Open (Medellin, Colombia): Fourth seed Nicolas Jarry of Chile came out on top in a marathon final over third seed Joao Souza of Brazil 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(0). The third time was the charm for Jarry in grabbing his first Challenger title. He previously finished runner-up this year in Morelos and Santiago. Souza was competing in his first final of 2017 and completed a remarkable turn in form. The 29 year old arrived in Medellin having won just three of his past 14 matches.

Winnipeg National Bank Challenger (Winnipeg, Canada): Top seed Blaz Kavcic dashed the hopes of second seed and home favourite Peter Polansky 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Kavcic picks up his first Challenger of the year after finishing runner-up in Bangkok, Shenzhen and Kyoto.

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WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Lajovic: “I’m happy that I won a title, especially because I played on grass last week. The transition from grass to clay is always tough. Winning here means that I have good feelings in my game and believe in what I’m doing.”

Kuhn: “I think I’m speechless. This is the best week of my life. Hopefully there will be many more Challenger wins and ATP World Tour wins. I’m just happy that it’s over now, and that I can have some time off to rest and prepare for the next tournaments.”

A LOOK AHEAD

There are five Challengers on the schedule this week, with the $125,000 event in Astana, Kazakhstan, taking top billing. The event has been a staple on the ATP Challenger Tour since 2007. Defending champion Evgeny Donskoy of Russia returns as the top seed, Local favourites Mikhail Kukushkin and #NextGenATP Alexander Bublik are the second and third seeds, respectively. #NextGenATP South Koreans Duckhee Lee and Soon Woo Kwon are the fourth and seventh seeds.

The $75,000 Challenger in Scheveningen, Netherlands, celebrates its historic 25th year. Past champions include David Goffin and Younes El Aynaoui. Defending champion and local favourite Robin Haase is the top seed and Taro Daniel of Japan is the second seed. A pair of #NextGenATP players, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Sebastian Ofner of Austria, are also in the draw.

San Benedetto, Italy, hosts a $75,000 tournament for the 13th year. Santiago Giraldo of Colombia is the top seed and Marcel Granollers of Spain is the second seed.

The $75,000 Challenger in Poznan, Poland, is back for the 14th straight year. #NextGenATP player Casper Ruud of Norway is the top seed, while Florian Mayer of Germany is the second seed. Local favourite and former Top 15 player Jerzy Janowicz, the 2012 champion, is the third seed.

Lastly, the $75,000 event in Gatineau, Canada, returns for the second straight year. Malek Jaziri of Tunisia is the top seed and Thomas Fabbiano of Italy is the second seed. Kavcic looks for another title as the third seed, while defending champion Polansky is the fifth seed. #NextGenATP player and home favourite Denis Shapovalov is the seventh seed.

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