Edmund & Evans Take Titles As Brits Move To 8-0 In Finals
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
Copa Fila (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Kyle Edmund is making the most of his time on the South American clay, claiming his third ATP Challenger Tour title of the year 6-0, 6-4 over Carlos Berlocq in Buenos Aires. The 20-year-old Brit finished the tournament with a flourish, winning his last 20 of 24 games played. Edmund breaks back into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings with the win, denying 2011 champion and home hope Berlocq from claiming Challenger title No. 17. His third crown on three continents, he added to titles on the hard courts of Hong Kong and Binghamton earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, the sentimental story of the tournament came in the doubles draw, where former singles No. 77 Lucas Arnold Ker reached the final after nearly two and a half years away from the game. The 41-year-old Argentine, a cancer survivor, defeated Roger Federer in the Swiss’ first ATP World Tour match in Gstaad 1998. Arnold Ker spoke to Argentine journalist Sebastian Torok for La Nacion: “When they gave me a wild card here I was so happy. I cried. I didn’t have a partner, so I spoke with Guido Andreozzi and this madness began. When I say to people that I want to play again, they look at me as if to say, ‘Are you crazy?’. Well, yes, for a while. Tennis is everything to me.”
Winner in Argentina on the dirt👊🏻🎾🇦🇷 https://t.co/by9YpgC5C4— Kyle Edmund (@kyle8edmund) November 16, 2015
Knoxville Challenger (Knoxville, U.S.A.): From 2010 to 2014, Great Britain accounted for a combined two titles on the ATP Challenger Tour. In 2015, Brits are 8-0 in Challenger finals with four different players taking home trophies. On Sunday, Daniel Evans joined Edmund in the winners’ circle with his first title in six years, rallying past American teen Frances Tiafoe 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in Knoxville. He denied a strong contingent of Americans last week, also beating second seed Austin Krajicek, Bjorn Fratangelo and Jared Donaldson. It was Evans’ second title, having previously won on home soil in Jersey in 2009.
"It's a great start for next year," Evans told broadcaster Mike Cation following the match. "End of the year isn't just the finish. Especially since I have not played that much tennis this year. It's great and I'm looking forward to playing again next week.
"It's a great effort (from Edmund), especially in South America on the clay. He's a really good player and is Top 100 again. He's going to be great for Britain."
Tiafoe, meanwhile, became the youngest player in the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, rising to a career-high World No. 182. The 17 year old was appearing in his second Challenger final after finishing runner-up in Tallahassee in early May. Tiafoe joins Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev as the lone players under the age of 18 in the Top 200.
Internationaux de Tennis de Vendee (Mouilleron Le Captif, France): Benoit Paire rose to a career-high World No. 19 after edging countryman Lucas Pouille on home soil in Mouilleron Le Captif. The top seed survived 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(7), saving one match point for his third ATP Challenger Tour title of the year (Bergamo, Quimper) and fifth pro title overall in 2015. The Frenchman hoisted his maiden ATP World Tour trophy in Bastad in July and won on the Futures circuit in January. The Comeback Player of the Year in the 2015 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, Paire is the sixth player to save at least one match point in a Challenger final this year.
Hyogo Noah Challenger (Kobe, Japan): With the race for year-end Top 100 spots heating up in the Emirates ATP Rankings, John Millman staked his claim entering the final two weeks of the ATP Challenger Tour season. The Aussie moved to World No. 90 after topping home hope Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-3 on Sunday at the inaugural event in Kobe. Millman was a two-time champion in the month of November last year and is thriving in the latter stages of the season once again. He captured his eighth crown overall and did not drop a set all week.
Peugeot Slovak Open (Bratislava, Slovakia): Fourth seed Lukas Lacko looked poised to claim his third title (2011, ‘13) in his home capital, but qualifier Egor Gerasimov had other ideas. Gerasimov upset top seed Lukas Rosol in the second round and needed seven match points to defeat sixth seed Norbert Gombos in the quarter-finals, before toppling Lacko 7-6(1), 7-6(5) for the title on Sunday. Gerasimov won his maiden crown, becoming the third Belarusian to claim victory on the circuit, joining Uladzimir Ignatik and Vladimir Voltchkov. He was the fifth qualifier to capture a title this year.
Sparkassen ATP Challenger (Ortisei, Italy): Ricardas Berankis won his fifth ATP Challenger Tour title and first in exactly one year, defeating Rajeev Ram 7-6(3), 6-4 in the Ortisei final. Ram, who became one of six players to win both ATP World Tour and Challenger titles this year with a title run in Guadalajara, was bidding for his second Ortisei title (2011).
What The Players Said
Berankis: “I have played my best game today in the final. A few times I gotta little bit lucky and Rajeev is a great server and returner. The key to win was to not make easy mistakes and be mentally strong.”
Ram: “Of course I´m disappointed. When you get to the final you want to win but it was still a good week. I enjoyed my week here in Ortisei. Everything was perfect. This is the last week of the year for me and now I'm back home for some rest and preparing for Australia.”
Gerasimov: "I am very happy that I won this tournament. It is the biggest victory of my career so far. I won here eight matches in a row. It is not the first time, I remember in past I won also twelve matches, but it was on completely different level of tennis."
The USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge concludes in Champaign, where American teens Noah Rubin, Michael Mmoh, Frances Tiafoe, Jared Donaldson, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul are all featured in the draw. Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri is the top seed. Meanwhile, in Yokohama, Japan, defending champion John Millman leads the field. Second seed Matthew Ebden won the title in 2013.
Five players in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings are in Brescia, Italy, where Sergiy Stakhovsky is the top seed. No. 3 seed Illya Marchenko will look to retain his crown. The lone event on clay is in Montevideo, Uruguay, where home hope Pablo Cuevas seeks a third title on home soil. Diego Schwartzman is seeded second and ATP Challenger Tour Finals contenders Guido Pella, Guilherme Clezar and Inigo Cervantes are also in the field. Clezar and Cervantes face off in the first round.