© Jean-Samuel Gauthier

Denis Kudla celebrates a return to the winners' circle in Drummondville, Canada.

Kudla Celebrates Drummondville 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
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

Challenger Banque Nationale de Drummondville (Drummondville, Canada): Denis Kudla is back in the winners' circle after nearly three years, claiming the trophy at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Drummondville on Sunday. Kudla marched to the title with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over France's Benjamin Bonzi, prevailing after just 64 minutes. The American converted five of six break opportunities to take his sixth Challenger crown and first since 2015.

It has been a strong start to 2018 for Kudla, who kicked off his campaign with a second round run as a qualifier at the Australian Open. He would also reach the semi-finals at the $125,000 event in Dallas. With his title in Drummondville, he vaults 24 spots in the ATP Rankings to a Top 150 return at No. 144.

Moreover, Kudla's victory gives the United States its fourth title on the ATP Challenger Tour this year. He joins Noah Rubin (Noumea), Taylor Fritz (Newport Beach) and Dennis Novikov (Morelos).

Irving Tennis Classic (Irving, Texas, U.S.A.): One year after finishing runner-up in Irving, Mikhail Kukushkin went one step further at the prestigious $150,000 event. The Kazakh defeated Matteo Berrettini 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in Sunday's final, capping a dominant week that saw the World No. 83 defeat Americans Jared Donaldson, Bjorn Fratangelo and Steve Johnson en route to the title match.

The title is Kukushkin's 14th on the ATP Challenger Tour, but his first in North America. The 30-year-old was defeated by Aljaz Bedene in last year's Irving final.

"I'm really excited," said Kukushkin. "This is my second year in a row in the final and this time I won. I definitely like this place. I love being here in Dallas at the Four Seasons. I love playing here, with the amazing facilities and I'm very happy with the way I played and the fact that I won."

Meanwhile, former Top 10 doubles players Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya teamed up to win their seventh title together. The German-Austrian duo stunned reigning Nitto ATP Finals champs Henri Kontinen and John Peers in straight sets in the first round.

"The whole week has been a pleasure for me," said Petzschner. "This is my second home in Dallas. I love this tournament. Thanks to everyone who helped out and hopefully I can come back for a couple more years."

Pingshan Open (Shenzhen, China): Seventh seed Ilya Ivashka notched his second ATP Challenger Tour title, prevailing on the hard courts of Shenzhen on Sunday. The Belarusian ousted home hope Zhang Ze 6-4, 6-2, capping a dominant week of tennis that saw him breeze to the title without dropping a set.

Ivashka, who crashed onto the ATP World Tour scene with a semi-final run at the Open 13 in Marseille last month, is up to No. 122 in the ATP Rankings - the highest-ranked player from Belarus. The rise of the European nation was one of the biggest storylines on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2017, with three players combining to post a 6-0 record in finals.

"I am very happy and excited to win the title here in Shenzhen," said Ivashka. "I love this tournament and I want to thank all the people who helped me during the week."

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A pair of tournaments are welcomed to the ATP Challenger Tour, with Lille, France and Qujing, China celebrating inaugural editions. Nicolas Mahut is the top seed in Lille, while Malek Jaziri leads the field in Qujing. Ivashka, seeded third, looks to go back-to-back on Chinese soil.