Fritz Continues Historic Run With Second Straight Title
A LOOK BACK
Fairfield Men’s Pro Challenger (Fairfield, U.S.A.): One. That’s the number of losses Taylor Fritz has been handed in three events entered on the ATP Challenger Tour. 462 – The number of spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings the 17 year old has vaulted in the last two weeks. To say Fritz is hitting his stride would be an understatement. The American went back-to-back on Sunday in Northern California, downing Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-4 in the Fairfield final after prevailing in nearby Sacramento. Up to World No. 232 and riding a 16-match win streak that includes a US Open junior title, he is fast becoming one of the rising sensations on tour.
"I served a lot better than last week," Fritz told broadcaster Mike Cation on Sunday. "In Sacramento I was off in some service games. This week I served really well and played great tennis all around. It's surprising because this week the scorelines would suggest that it was much easier for me. But the draw was much tougher. I played a seed every round besides the first round and that just shows how much better I played.”
"I didn't see a difference in the amount of times he's coming to net from last week," Fritz added, referring to his rematch against Brown having saved three match points in the Sacramento second round. "Every time he made a first serve or hit a second serve into the body, I assumed he was coming in and tried to put it in a corner or just low. When I put it low, sometimes he'd miss it and other times he'd hit it too good.”
Fritz improved to 10-1 on the Challenger circuit with his victories in Sacramento and Fairfield, riding a clutch serving performance in turning aside a combined 47 of 51 break points faced. He joined a list that includes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Bernard Tomic and Richard Gasquet in winning multiple Challenger titles while under the age of 18. The Rancho Sante Fe native is the second such player to win titles in consecutive weeks as well, joining the late Horst Skoff. With the title on Sunday, he became the 12th teenage champion on the ATP Challenger Tour this year, doubling the total from 2014.
"I'm going to play a lot more tournaments. The plan was to take two months to train, but I think I'm going to bring the offseason down to one month. I thought I needed to train to have these results, but I put two really hard weeks in before Sacramento and that's all it took to start playing like this. Once you get the results, you have to capitalise on it."
Tashkent Challenger (Tashkent, Uzbekistan): Denis Istomin pulled double duty on Saturday in Tashkent, en route to claiming his 10th ATP Challenger Tour title. The top seed and 2011 champion added a second crown in his home capital, downing defending champ Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-4 just hours after winning a rain-delayed semi-final over Yuki Bhambri. Istomin, who rallied from a set down three times during the week, was competing in his first event on the circuit this the year. He became the sixth player to win both Challenger and ATP World Tour titles in 2015, having captured his maiden tour-level title on the grass of Nottingham (d. Querrey). Lacko, meanwhile, eclipsed the 200 match wins threshold, despite falling to 9-10 in finals.
Vietnam Open Presented by Bia Saigon Special (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam): The ATP Challenger Tour returned to Vietnam for the first time since 2007, when the 10-year event in Ho Chi Minh City concluded. Last week, the circuit staged a tournament in the capital once again, with fourth seed Saketh Myneni claiming the silverware. The Indian prevailed 7-5, 6-3 over Australia’s Jordan Thompson, striking 10 aces and denying five of six break points faced. It was Myneni’s second Challenger title, following his breakthrough success on home soil in Indore last year.
ATP Challenger Corrientes (Corrientes, Argentina): Last week, Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq became just the sixth player in ATP Challenger Tour history to lift 16 trophies. On Sunday, countryman Maximo Gonzalez would join his friend in the club, overcoming top seed Diego Schwartzman 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on home soil in Corrientes. Gonzalez triumphed after two hours and four minutes, handing Schwartzman his third final defeat in four weeks. The 32 year old improved to 16-7 in title matches, notching his second victory of the season (Mestre).
Morocco Tennis Tour – Casablanca (Casablanca, Morocco): The five-tournament Morocco Tennis Tour concluded Saturday in Casablanca, with Damir Dzumhur hoisting his sixth ATP Challenger Tour title and third of the year. The fourth seed saved a whopping 21 of 24 break points to defeat Daniel Munoz-de la Nava 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes. Dzumhur has won titles on three different continents this year, having also prevailed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Alphen, Netherlands.
Open de Rennes (Rennes, France): For just the second time in the 10-year history of the Open de Rennes, a Frenchman failed to reach the final. Malek Jaziri won his third ATP Challenger Tour title and first since 2013, rallying past Igor Sijsling 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday. The Tunisian, who rallied from a 0-6 first set deficit in their most recent meeting at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Dubai 2014, fired eight aces and converted on three of four break opportunities.
What The Players Said
Istomin: “It feels special. It's important for me to win at home than anywhere else. It was a very tight match, but the key today was my serve. I have had injuries this year but the win at Nottingham changed things. I want to start preparing early for the next year as it also is the Olympic year.”
Gonzalez: “It was a very difficult match. I tried to impose my game and I did it.I felt very comfortable in the city, also at the tournament. I want to thank everyone for the attention that they have given me. It fills me with pride to be able to join the players with the most Challenger titles. It was a very special week for me.”
Three new tournaments highlight the upcoming week on the ATP Challenger Tour, with Austin Krajicek and Tim Smyczek leading the field in Las Vegas, U.S.A., where rising teens Michael Mmoh, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe are also present. The city last staged a Challenger event 15 years ago. Also, the first of two consecutive tournaments in India is held in Bangalore, where Adrian Menendez-Maceiras is the top seed. In Brest, France, home hopes Benoit Paire and Nicolas Mahut are the top seeds. At World No. 25, Paire is the highest-ranked player to compete on the circuit this year.
The $125,000 event in Ningbo, China, returns after a two-year hiatus. Top seed and all-time Challenger titles leader Yen-Hsun Lu won the title in 2011 and seventh seed Peter Gojowczyk hoisted the trophy in 2012. Finally, Diego Schwartzman leads the field in Santiago, Chile.