Evans, Thompson Make Top 100 Debuts With Challenger Titles
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
Santaizi Challenger (Taipei, Taiwan): No. 6 seed Daniel Evans won his second ATP Challenger Tour title of 2016 and the fourth of his career, narrowly defeating No. 8 seed Konstantin Kravchuk at the $75,000 event, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Evans previously won this March at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Drummondville, Canada. The win also brings him inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career, where he’ll land this week at No. 97.
Despite the loss, Kravchuk defended his finalist points from last year and also successfully snapped an eight-match losing streak in semi-finals in ATP Challenger Tour events.
Kunming Open (Anning, China): No. 2 seed Jordan Thompson won his second ATP Challenger Tour of the year and the biggest of his career at this $100,000 tournament, convincingly defeating No. 7 seed Mathias Bourgue in the final, 6-3, 6-2. The Australian also won this February in Cherbourg, France. Thompson barely made it to the weekend after saving five match points in his quarter-final against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. The win this week also enabled him to make his debut inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, where he’ll finish at No. 90.
Prosperita Open (Ostrava, Czech Republic): In a championship match between two players competing in their first ATP Challenger Tour final at the $50,000 event, Constant Lestienne won his maiden title by prevailing over wild card Zdenek Kolar, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2. He becomes the eighth first-time winner of 2016 and the sixth different French titlist of the year.
Despite the loss, the week was a breakthrough for Zolar. Coming in at No. 487 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 19-year-old was looking to become the second-lowest ranked winner this year (only beghind Blake Mott at No. 721, who prevailed in Launceston, Australia).
Tallahassee Tennis Challenger (Tallahassee, Florida): In an all #NextGen final, Quentin Halys won his first ATP Challenger Tour title by prevailing over Frances Tiafoe, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2. The championship match was the third all-teenage final on the ATP Challenger Tour since October; prior to that, none were contested since 2007. Halys also brought the win streak of French teenagers in Challenger finals to seven, dating back to 2005. He joins an illustrious list of players who have helped build that streak, including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
2016 ATP Challenger Tour Teen Titlists
||18 years, 2 months
||Happy Valley (AUS)
||18 years, 4 months
||19 years, 6 months
||19 years, 9 months
Meanwhile, Tiafoe is still looking for his first ATP Challenger Tour title and now drops to 0-3 in finals. He also lost in the championship match in Tallahassee last year.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Thompson: "Top 100 is an unreal feeling. I've worked towards this for a long time now and I'm glad I've got there. It came pretty quickly but it's definitely been my goal this year. My ranking should get me into the Grand Slams and ATP events, so I'm pretty happy about that."
Halys: "It's a good step. Two years ago, I won my first Futures event and now I won my first Challenger. It's a good step, but it doesn't mean I'm done.”
A LOOK AHEAD
There are four challengers on the calendar this week, with the $100,000 event in Aix-en-Provence, France, taking top billing. Two players ranked in the Top 100 are in the draw, with World No. 65 Lukas Rosol and World No. 87 Diego Schwartzman coming in as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Schwartzman won this tournament in 2014. Other notables names in the draw include No. 5 seed Mischa Zverev, who won last month in Sarasota, Florida; No. 6 seed and #NextGen star Elias Ymer, who also lifted a title last month in Barletta, Italy; and 2014 Roland Garros men’s doubles champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The $100,000 tournament in Busan, Korea, also returns for the 14th consecutive year. Four players inside the Top 100 are competing, with No. 1 seed Ricardas Berankis looking to continue his recent hot streak in ATP Challenger Tour events in Asia. 2012 runner-up John Millman is the No. 2 seed, defending champion and local favourite Hyeon Chung is the No. 3 seed and Sam Groth is the No. 4 seed. Other notable names in the draw include 2012 champion and No. 5 seed Tatsuma Ito, and 2009 champion Go Soeda.
The staple challenger in Karshi, Uzbekistan, also returns for the 10th consecutive year. World No. 79 Dudi Sela, a winner this March at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Shenzhen, China, is the No. 1 seed, while #NextGen star Karen Khachanov is the No. 2 seed. Other notable names include No. 3 seed Radu Albot, as well as former world No. 72 and No. 4 seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Lastly, the always-popular $50,000 challenger in Rome, Italy, returns for the 15th consecutive year. Three players ranked in the Top 100 are in the draw, with Jiri Vesely as the No. 1 seed and #NextGen star Kyle Edmund as the No. 2 seed. Other notable names in the draw include Adam Pavlasek, the No. 4 seed and last year’s finalist; Jordan Thompson, the No. 6 seed and recent winner in Anning, and 2013 runner-up Filippo Volandri
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