#NextGen Tiafoe Cracks Top 100 With Stockton Title
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
Stockton ATP Challenger (Stockton, California): In a battle of American #NextGen stars, third seed Frances Tiafoe picked up his second ATP Challenger Tour title of 2016 by defeating Noah Rubin, 6-4, 6-2. This was the fifth all-#NextGen final of the year, four of which involved Tiafoe.
The Maryland native will make his debut in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, joining World No. 71 Taylor Fritz as the second 18-year-old American. At 18 years and eight months, No. 100 Tiafoe overtakes his countryman as the leader for the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates. The youngest player in the year-end Top 100 will receive the special honour during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Should Tiafoe remain in the Top 100, he will have a strong chance to win the award.
The title represents the ninth won by teenagers this year. Also the winner in Granby, Canada, Tiafoe is the first teen to win multiple titles in a single season since Fritz did so exactly one year ago in Sacramento and Fairfield.
Ethias Trophy (Mons, Belgium): Sixth seed Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany sprinted to his second Challenger title of the year with a dominant win over Vincent Millot of France, 6-2, 6-0. The 48-minute match was tied for the fastest Challenger final of the year, matching the amount of time it took Tiafoe to defeat Marcelo Arevalo in Granby, Canada. Struff also prevailed last month at the Dutch Challenger in Alphen.
Despite the loss, Millot has posted a 9-3 record in his past three Challengers.
Campeonato Internacional (Campinas, Brazil): It’s back-to-back Challengers for third seed Facundo Bagnis of Argentina after top seed and fellow Argentine Carlos Berlocq was forced to retire with a right adductor strain. Bagnis was leading the final 5-7, 6-2, 3-0. This is his fifth Challenger title of 2016, more than any other player, with all his wins coming on South American clay courts.
Bagnis also prevailed last week in Medellin, Colombia. He is 35-8 in Challengers in 2016, with 30 of those wins coming in South America.
Morocco Tennis Tour (Mohammedia, Morocco): Second seed Gerald Melzer of Austria won his fourth Challenger of 2016 by rallying to defeat wild card and top-ranked junior Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Austrian prevailed in three Challengers in the first two months of 2016, with titles in Mendoza, Argentina, Bucaramaga, Colombia, and Morelos, Mexico. Melzer will move to a new career-high Emirates ATP Ranking on Monday.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Struff: “I wanted to play well here in Mons to get back into the Top 100, so it means a lot. I played my best match of the year in the final and served well all week.”
“This is really one of the best Challengers in the world. I enjoy coming here because everything goes well and the organisation is top notch. It’s a pleasure to be here.”
Knowle: “It means a lot to me to win a tournament because it has been a long time. Julian and I started playing together again last week. We haven't been playing together for a long time and now we win here. It's great to have an old partner back. It feels good to know what to expect.”
G. Melzer: “I'm really happy with the week. I didn't feel too great the previous weeks, but I've been working really hard with my team and that makes me even more happy that it paid off with a win!”
A LOOK AHEAD
This week is sure to be busy with six Challenger events on the calendar. The $125,000+H event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, takes top billing as it returns for the ninth straight year. Five players inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings are in the draw, with World No. 52 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic taking the top seed and World No. 79 Jeremy Chardy of France earning the second seed. Last year’s runner-up and 2014 champion Lukas Lacko of Slovakia is the sixth seed, while local favourite and defending champion Denis Istomin is the seventh seed.
The $100,000 Challenger in Monterrey, Mexico, is back for the second consecutive year. Last year’s runner-up Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic is the top seed and Benjamin Becker of Germany is the second seed. American #NextGen star Ernesto Escobedo holds the fifth seed.
California gets its third straight Challenger as the $100,000 event in Fairfield returns for the second year. American #NextGen star Tiafoe is the top seed and Santiago Giraldo of Colombia is the second seed. The tournament features a slew of rising stars including Canadian Denis Shapovalov, American Reilly Opelka, #NextGen player Quentin Halys of France and Rubin, who looks to continue his form from Stockton.
The always-popular $50,000+H tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, returns for the 13th year. Local favourite and 2009 champion Horacio Zeballos is the top seed, while Bagnis looks for another title as the second seed. Two-time champion and local star Berlocq is the third seed and Thiago Monteiro of Brazil is the fourth seed.
The $50,000 Challenger in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, is back for the second straight year. Four players inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings are in the draw, with World No. 50 Malek Jaziri of Tunisia taking the top seed and world No. 69 Dudi Sela of Israel holding the second seed. Last year’s runner-up, Australian Jordan Thompson, is the fourth seed. Defending champion Saketh Myneni of India is also in the draw.
Lastly, the $50,000 Challenger in Casablanca, Morocco, returns for the fifth year. World No. 77 Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia is the top seed and Melzer looks for another title in Morocco as the second seed. Tsitsipas is also in the draw and aims to go one better than last week for his first ATP Challenger Tour title.
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.