© Charlie Baglan

John Millman won the Lexington Challenger title.

Millman’s Magic: John Claims Sixth Challenger Crown

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
Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships (Lexington, U.S.A.): John Millman claimed his sixth ATP Challenger Tour title and first of the year on Sunday, downing lucky loser Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in one hour and 55 minutes. On the heels of a run to the final at the Vicenza Challenger and second round finish at Wimbledon, Millman rose to a career-high World No. 84. He is one of five Aussies to win on the circuit this year, joining Sam Groth, Matthew Ebden, Thanasi Kokkinakis and John-Patrick Smith. Meanwhile, Uchiyama became just the fifth lucky loser to reach an ATP Challenger Tour final since 2011.

“I had been doing so much traveling and was feeling run down and sick,” Millman told USTA broadcaster Mike Cation. “I’d been struggling and when you’re not feeling 100 per cent physically, it is tough work. I got a bid lucky (in the first round), when Jason (Jung) pulled out after the first set. I got an extra day off which helped and I started to feel better after that. I think throughout the week I got better and better. It wasn’t my greatest match today, but you have to do what you can to win and I’m really happy with where’s my game’s at. There’s no better feeling than winning the title.

“The reality of tennis is that you’re not going to play perfect every match. I fought hard and controlled what I can. You have to give Uchiyama credit. He was serving well on big points and came up with the goods. I came out and didn’t feel great on the serve. When he’s seeing a lot of second serves and I’m not hitting my spots the way I’d like to. I had to grind out a few games there and dig deep. That’s something I pride myself on and try to find a way. I’m grateful it came off.”

Millman says he will compete at the ATP Challenger Tour events in Aptos and Vancouver, before playing his first US Open main draw.

President’s Cup (Astana, Kazakhstan): Top seed Mikhail Kukushkin won the $75,000 event in Astana, defeating Evgeny Donskoy 6-2, 6-2 in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 3 seeds. Competing on home soil, Kukushkin captured his 11th ATP Challenger Tour title in 16 finals. It was their fifth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting and first since 2014 China Open qualifying in Beijing, with Kukushkin improving to 4-1 against Donskoy. The 27 year old rises to World No. 52 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, four spots off his career-high of No. 48, achieved one year ago.

Challenger Pulcra Lachiter Biella (Biella, Italy): Sixth seed Andrej Martin finds himself in strong form entering August, after earning his second ATP Challenger Tour title in one month. The Slovak overcame Argentina’s Nicolas Kicker 6-4, 6-2 in Sunday’s final for his sixth title on the circuit. He had claimed the title in Padova, Italy in early July, rallying from a 0-6 first set and saving one match point in edging Albert Montanes.

WHAT'S AHEAD
Andrej Martin looks to make it back-to-back when he attempts to defend his title in Liberec, Czech Republic. He could potentially face top seed Steve Darcis in the second round. 2014 runner-up Horacio Zeballos is seeded sixth. The ATP Challenger Tour stop in Segovia, Spain, features a pair of Top 100 talents – Marcel Granollers and Dustin Brown – and also features 2012 titlist Evgeny Donskoy and fourth seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, who was last year’s runner-up. Meanwhile, second seed and 2014 champion Filip Krajinovic returns to Cortina, Italy, joining top seed Paolo Lorenzi.