Teens Moutet, Kecmanovic Claim Maiden Challenger Titles
A LOOK BACK
China International Suzhou (Suzhou, China): It has been a banner year for junior stars making the transition to the ATP Challenger Tour. In June, Felix Auger-Aliassime won his first title in Lyon, France. In July, it was Nicola Kuhn's turn in Braunschweig, Germany and in September, Wu Yibing lifted the trophy in Shanghai. On Sunday, former junior No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic earned his maiden title in Suzhou, China, defeating Radu Albot 6-4, 6-4.
One week after falling in the first round in Ningbo, the Serbian did not drop a set in streaking to the title in Suzhou, upsetting four seeded opponents along the way. He is the youngest from his country to win on the circuit since Novak Djokovic in 2005. Players from Serbia have now accounted for a tour-leading 12 titles this year.
Open Brest Arena Credit Agricole (Brest, France): Home hope Corentin Moutet gave French fans plenty to cheer about in Brest. The unseeded wild card claimed his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 7-6(8) in one hour and 38 minutes. It was the first all-teenage final of the year, with Moutet joining Kecmanovic as 18-year-old winners on Sunday. The Frenchman moves up 64 spots to a career-high No. 160 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, while the Serbian soars 85 positions to No. 209.
It was an impressive week for Moutet, who rallied from a set down on two occasions: upsetting defending champion Norbert Gombos in the first round and edging Yannick Maden in the semis. He is the fifth different French titlist this year, joining Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino, Mathias Bourgue and Calvin Hemery.
Latrobe City Traralgon Challenger (Traralgon, Australia): Even Hollywood couldn't have scripted a week like this for Jason Kubler. After sitting on the sidelines for more than a year due to injury, Kubler claimed the title in Traralgon in what was his first ATP Challenger Tour event since July 2015. It was a fairytale week for the Aussie, who came through qualifying to capture his second Challenger title. He saved one match point to edge countryman Alex Bolt 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(3) in two hours and 28 minutes in Sunday's final.
Kubler's victory is even more astounding considering it came on hard courts. The 24 year old, a former junior No. 1, has endured a career of knee issues that have only allowed him to compete on clay. In fact, he had never played a Challenger match on hard entering the week. Kubler would go on to upset third seed Taro Daniel and second seed Matthew Ebden - both in straight sets - en route to the championship. He vaults 266 spots to No. 349 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Hung Thinh Vietnam Open (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam): Former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny returned to the Top 100 thanks to another successful week on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Russian veteran went back-to-back in Ningbo and Ho Chi Minh City, defeating John Millman 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday in Vietnam's largest city. The win not only saw Youzhny extend his win streak to 10 straight, but nearly assured the 35-year-old a main draw berth at the Australian Open in January.
Lima Challenger (Lima, Peru): Gerald Melzer did not drop a set all week in Lima, claiming his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the year. He ousted Jozef Kovalik 7-5, 7-6(4) in the final, marking his sixth crown in total. The Austrian is making a late-season push towards a Top 100 return, moving up 19 spots to No. 119.
A LOOK AHEAD
Once again, five tournaments are on the slate this week. All are in different continents. The U.S. indoor swing gets underway in Charlottesville, with defending champion opening against top seed Tennys Sandgren in a blockbuster first round clash. In Shenzhen, China, Youzhny looks to make it three titles in three weeks, while Kecmanovic eyes a second straight crown.
Jordan Thompson is the top seed on home soil in Canberra, Australia, while Ruben Bemelmans joins Tommy Robredo and teens Moutet, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur in Eckental, Germany. Lastly, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, second seed Nicolas Kicker is the defending champion and accompanied by Victor Estrella Burgos and #NextGenATP star Casper Ruud.