Granollers Finds Top Form To Prevail In Irving
A LOOK BACK
BMW Of Dallas Irving Tennis Classic (Irving, Texas): The ATP Challenger Tour returned to Irving for the fifth consecutive year. In the second Challenger final of the year pitting two Top 100 players against each other, unseeded Marcel Granollers produced his best tennis of the week to rout No. 4 seed and defending champion Aljaz Bedene, 6-1, 6-1. The match took just 59 minutes from Granollers, marking the second Challenger final this year to finish in under an hour. With the win, Granollers also stopped Bedene’s streak of seven consecutive victories in Challenger finals.
The veteran Spaniard was in red-hot form throughout the prestigious $125,000+H event, dropping just three games in his final two matches. His victory on Sunday gave him the fourth Challenger title of his career and his first in six years, having last prevailed on home soil at Tarragona in 2010.
Read: Knowles Returns To The Court In Irving | Irving Keeps Players Coming Back
Jalisco Open presentado por Aeromexico (Guadalajara, Mexico): With a combined age of 67, the final between Stephane Robert (35) and No. 5 seed Malek Jaziri (32) was the second-oldest so far this year on the ATP Challenger Tour. Both players showed no signs of age in the grueling baseline rallies throughout the match, but it was Jaziri who narrowly prevailed in front of a raucous stadium crowd, 5-7 6-3, 7-6 (5).
This week also marked a brilliant turn in form from Jaziri, who hadn’t won two consecutive matches at a tournament this year prior to arriving in Guadalajara. The victory this week marks the fourth ATP Challenger Tour title of Jaziri’s career.
Despite the loss, Robert appears poised to soon rejoin the Top 100 at age 35. He’s climbed more than 70 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings since the start of the year after recording several impressive results, including a third-round finish at the Australian Open and winning the ATP Challenger Tour event in New Delhi.
Kazan Kremlin Cup (Kazan, Russia): The seventh annual edition of the Kazan Kremlin Cup saw unseeded Tobias Kamke breeze through the draw without the loss of a set, comfortably dispatching local favourite Aslan Karastev in the final, 6-4, 6-2. The win gave Kamke his eighth career singles title on the ATP Challenger Tour and his fifth straight win in Challenger finals. Currently ranked No. 244 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 29-year-old is projected to jump back into the Top 200 with his victory in Kazan.
Challenger Banque Nationale de Drummondville (Drummondville, Canada): In an all-British final, No. 4 seed Daniel Evans continued his climb back up the rankings by prevailing against lucky loser Edward Corrie, 6-3, 6-4. It was the second all-British final of the year for Evans, having lost last month in Dallas to Kyle Edmund, and his first title of 2016. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old also qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
But despite the loss on Sunday, the week was a success for Corrie. The world No. 531 reached his first Challenger final at age 28 and became the first lucky loser to reach a Challenger final since Yasutaka Uchiyama in Lexington last July.
The week also yielded strong results for Canadian tennis. Four Canadians reached the quarter-finals at a Challenger for just the second time (Calgary '93), with wild card Denis Shapovalov becoming the first 16 year old to reach a Challenger semi-final since Stefan Kozlov achieved that feat in Sacramento in October 2014. Shapovalov also became the first player born in the year 1999 to win a main draw match on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Guangzhou GDD Cup (Guangzhou, China): Persistent rain forced three quarter-final matches and both semi-final matches to be played on Sunday, resulting in a Monday final between No. 5 seed Lukas Lacko and No. 7 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Another rain delay took place shortly after Basilashvili took the opening set, but he overcame both that and a mid-match surge from Lacko to take the title, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-5.
The win gives Basilashvili his third career ATP Challenger Tour title. This is also the fourth ATP Challenger Tour final in the last six months for Lacko, having won in Izmir and finished runner-up in both Bratislava and Tashkent.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Granollers: It was my first time here, so I feel very good in Irving. I hope to see you all next year.
Basilashvili: "I'm so happy to win the title here. Thanks to the tournament for everything they've done for us. I feel sorry for Lukas (Lacko). I hope this challenger can get even better in the years to come."
"I haven't played my best tennis in the past two months, so the success in this tournament could boost my confidence to do better for the rest of the year. I feel very confident about this."
A LOOK AHEAD
There are two tournaments on the calendar this week, with a $75,000 event Guangzhou (China) and a $50,000 event in San Luis Potosi (Mexico) set to commence on Tuesday. The top four seeds in Shenzhen are all ranked inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with World No. 86 Taro Daniel earning billing as the top seed. Last week’s finalists in Guangzhou, Lukas Lacko and Nikoloz Basilashvili, will look to continue their strong form as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds this week.
In San Luis Potosi, world No. 113 Michael Berrer is the top seed. Last year’s runner-up, James McGee, is the No. 8 seed this year, while 2012 champion Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo is another notable name in the draw.
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.