Moreno De Alboran, Fatic Claim Maiden Challenger Tour Titles
Two players claimed their first ATP Challenger Tour title Sunday. American Nicolas Moreno De Alboran was crowned champion in Braga, Portugal while Bosnia’s Nerman Fatic triumphed at the Sibiu Challenger.
The 25-year-old’s maiden Challenger title comes five months after he relinquished serving for a straight-sets victory in the Salinas Challenger final, eventually falling to Ecuadorian Emilio Gomez.
“I’m very happy, it’s been a very emotional week,” Moreno de Alboran said. “It’s been a tough year for me with a lot of injuries so coming here, qualifying, and then winning the tournament means a lot. I’ve put in a lot of work to be here.”
Moreno de Alboran, who was born in New York City and played college tennis at UC Santa Barbara, now resides in Madrid, Spain. Backing up a run to the semi-finals at the Cordenons Challenger in August (l. Vavassori), this week’s title in Portugal lifts him to a career-high No. 201 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Pucinelli de Almeida, 21, was competing in his first Challenger final; a run that lifts him to a career-high World No. 190.
“It was a crazy week,” Fatic said. “I was playing really well, I didn’t expect this result. I’ve been working hard all my life to achieve this.”
Nerman Fatic celebrates his maiden Challenger Tour title. Credit: Drogos Dumitru/Zeppelin Studio Focus Agency
In Fatic’s semi-final match, he took down top-seeded Federico Coria, to whom he dropped his only set en route to the title in Romania. In the championship match, Fatic, who now climbs to a career-high mark No. 196, defeated his close friend and former World No. 23 Dzumhur.
"Me and Damir were pretty much raised together in Bosnia,” Fatic said. “It is tough to have a tennis career there, but if you have the will and passion, doors will open and you'll find a way."
As rain halted play on Saturday, the Brazilian was forced to win back-to-back matches on Sunday to collect his eighth Challenger title. The 28-year-old’s championship run at the AON Open Challenger ties him at his career-high mark No. 62, which he reached this past month shortly after triumphing at the Salzburg Challenger.
“It was a perfect week,” Monteiro said. “I'm really happy to win in Genoa, it’s a beautiful city and a beautiful tournament. I’d like to dedicate this victory to my family and to all my team that works with me.”
Monteiro is riding a 10-match winning streak at the Challenger level and boasts a 18-6 Challenger match record in 2022. When the lefty made his ATP Tour debut in 2016, he defeated then-World No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Rio de Janeiro.
Thiago Monteiro in action during the Genoa Challenger final. Credit: Tiziano Meoni
In Genoa doubles action, German Dustin Brown teamed up with Italian Andrea Vavassori to win their third doubles title this season at the Challenger level (Cordenons and Szczecin). Brown also paired with American Evan King to collect the Troisdorf title in May.
On the hard-courts in Columbus, Ohio, Australian Jordan Thompson didn’t drop a set en route to claiming his second Challenger title of the season, taking down Emilio Gomez 7-6(6), 6-2 in the championship match.
During a nine-match winning streak this summer, Thompson dropped just one set to triumph at the Surbiton Challenger and finished runner-up in Nottingham the following week (l. Evans).
In 2018, The Sydney native collected 52 Challenger match wins (including reaching the final in Columbus, l. Mmoh), a Challenger Tour season record that is only behind Carlos Berlocq’s 57 Challenger match wins in 2010.
Thompson reached a career-high No. 43 in July 2019, shortly after reaching the final at the ATP 250 event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Kicker, 30, finished runner-up at the Todi Challenger in July (l. Cachin) and is a four-time tiltist on the Challenger Tour: Perugia, Guayaquil, Buenos Aires, and this week in Villa Maria. Players from Argentina have combined for a season-leading 18 Challenger titles.
Argentine Nicolas Kicker is crowned champion in Villa Maria. Credit: Challenger Dove Men+Care Villa Maria
In 2017, Kicker made his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros, where he claimed a first-round victory (d. Dzumhur), which propelled him to a career-high No. 78. The following season, the Argentine reached the third round at the Australian Open.