© Kevin Verneau

Mathias Bourgue is having a successful year on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Bourgue Building On Murray Match In Challengers

The Frenchman returns to the site of his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Blois

Twelve months after winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Blois, France, Mathias Bourgue came full circle by returning this week to defend it.

Although he lost in the first round, it was a minor blip in comparison to the progress the 22-year-old has made this year.

“It was a weird experience because it was my first time defending a title, so it was tough to deal with it,” he admitted. “But I really like Blois. The public is very supportive and the organisation is great, so I felt good on the court last year. It’s also the last Challenger in France until the fall, so I wanted to try and come back.”

Bourgue has climbed over 80 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2016, currently sitting at a career-high ranking of No. 153. He reached the final of the $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event this April in Anning, China, as well as the semi-finals of the $75,000 event in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the $50,000 tournament in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

The Frenchman credited a rigorous off-season that included unique training methods with taking his game to the next level.

“I took some boxing lessons during this off-season. I wanted to be prepared and be able to literally fight for every point,” said Bourgue. “And on the court, I did a lot of long sessions.”

His hard work culminated last month at Roland Garros, where he received a wild card into his first Grand Slam main draw. After winning his opening round, he was a set away from defeating World No. 2 Andy Murray before falling in five sets.

“It’s a big memory for me and my first time playing such a good player,” said Bourgue. “To have a lot of success during the match and be in control for two sets gave me a lot of confidence and showed that I can play at his level. It was a great experience.”

For now, Bourgue is back to the ATP Challenger Tour as he pushes to finish in the Top 100 by the end of the year. The Frenchman is looking back to his victory last year in Blois as a blueprint for how he wants to play on a weekly basis.

“I felt really confident after that tournament,” he said. “I felt that I was starting to play better and my hard work was showing, so that’s partly why I started this year so well. I’m just trying to be as consistent as I was during that week."

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