Millman Soars To Career-High With Aix-en-Provence Title
A LOOK BACK
Open du Pays d'Aix (Aix-en-Provence, France): John Millman is a man on a mission in 2018. The Aussie secured his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the year on Sunday, defeating countryman Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-2 at the prestigious tournament in southern France. At the age of 28, he rises to a career-high No. 58 in the ATP Rankings.
Just two weeks after reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Budapest, Millman continued his strong form on the dirt with his first clay-court title. Entering Budapest, the Tecnifibre player had not won a match on the surface since 2015, as he worked his way back from a series of injuries, including shoulder and groin.
Now, playing the best tennis of his career, Millman will celebrate an impressive week of tennis. He won four matches on outdoor clay and made a seamless transition to indoor hard for the final, after torrential rain forced the match to be moved.
Gimcheon Challenger (Gimcheon, Korea): Yoshihito Nishioka earned his first title since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, taking the title in Gimcheon. The qualifier did not drop a set in the main draw, defeating second seed Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 7-5 in Sunday's final. Moreover, the 22-year-old Japanese is now 5-0 in Challenger finals and will rise 100 spots to No. 262 in the ATP Rankings.
Braga Open (Braga, Portugal): For the second straight week, a Portuguese player named Sousa defeated a #NextGenATP on home soil for a title. A week ago, it was Joao Sousa prevailing at the ATP World Tour stop in Estoril over Frances Tiafoe. And on Sunday, Pedro Sousa overcame Casper Ruud 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 to claim victory at the inaugural ATP Challenger Tour event in Braga.
The fourth seed dropped one set all week in lifting his fourth Challenger trophy and first in Portugal. Sousa is carrying the momentum from a strong 2017 campaign which saw him rise to a career-high No. 102 in the ATP Rankings.
“It’s not the first Challenger I've won, but it is the first in Portugal and the one that tastes sweeter," said Sousa. "It comes after a very tough week for me and to get here and win makes me extremely happy... He has a heavy game and with these rainy conditions I found it tougher to return his shots, but I think I found a way to play well on the baseline."
“The first set was definitely my best of the tournament but I knew he just needed to start hitting more shots and it would be a balanced match. That’s what happened and I just tried to stick to the plan, do what I was doing well and I’m glad it went ok.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ruud moves up one spot to ninth in the ATP Race To Milan and is just four points behind Marc Polmans for the No. 8 position. He was appearing in his second Challenger final in less than a month, after also finishing runner-up in Francavilla al Mare, Italy.
Garden Open (Rome, Italy): Adam Pavlasek survived a trio of tight three-set encounters en route to the title in Rome on Saturday. It was the 23-year-old's first Challenger triumph since 2016 and fourth overall. In what was the longest final thus far this year, Pavlasek outlasted Serbia's Laslo Djere 7-6(1), 6-7(9), 6-4 after a marathon two hours and 50 minutes. He emerged victorious on his fourth match point, after seeing three slip in the second set.
What a battle! After two hours and 50 minutes, Adam Pavlasek takes the title in Rome, d. Laslo Djere 76(1) 67(9) 64 on his fourth MP.— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) May 12, 2018
Longest #ATPChallenger final of the year pic.twitter.com/yipSo6NaKC
Karshi Challenger (Karshi, Uzbekistan): In the first all-Belarusian final in ATP Challenger Tour history, third seed Egor Gerasimov emerged with the title in Karshi. He prevailed when Sergey Betov retired down 7-6(3), 2-0 due to a hip injury. Players from the European nation have now posted a combined 8-1 record in Challenger finals since the start of the 2017 season, with Gerasimov accounting for four of those victories.
A LOOK AHEAD
It's one of the most highly-anticipated weeks on the ATP Challenger Tour, with a $150,000 event in Busan, the prestigious BNP Paribas Primrose in Bordeaux, the 2017 Tournament of the Year in Heilbronn, the 22nd edition of the Samarkand Challenger and the return of the Lisboa Belem Open in the Portuguese capital.
In Busan, Vasek Pospisil looks to defend his title, while Yoshihito Nishioka eyes back-to-back crowns on Korean soil. In Bordeaux, #NextGenATP stars abound, with Reilly Opelka, Corentin Moutet, Stefan Kozlov and Alexander Bublik in the draw. It is the 11th edition of the tournament, held at the iconic Villa Primrose.
In Heilbronn, Germany, top seed John Millman looks to continue rolling on the clay. He is joined by countryman Marc Polmans, Braga finalist Casper Ruud and second seed Jiri Vesely. Meanwhile, in Samarkand, 2011 champ Denis Istomin leads the charge on home soil. And in Lisbon, top seed Taro Daniel, second seed Alex de Minaur and home hope Pedro Sousa lead the field.