Brands Celebrates First Title In Six Years
A LOOK BACK
Guzzini Challenger (Recanati, Italy): Daniel Brands is back! Five years after ascending to a career-high World No. 51 in the ATP Rankings, the big-hitting German is plotting his return to the Top 100.
Brands claimed the title at the hard-court event in Recanati, Italy on Sunday, defeating Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 23 minutes. It was his first ATP Challenger Tour crown since 2012. Competing with a protected ranking after undergoing knee surgery last year, Brands did not drop a set all week in the Italian city.
"With this victory, I hope to get closer to a more appropriate [ATP Ranking], since I had stopped playing for some time," said Brands. "It was a great tournament with a very challenging draw, but I believed in myself to the end. I congratulate Adrian, who put me in serious trouble especially in the first set."
Brands is playing some of the best tennis of his career, having also turned in a strong performance at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne last week. His defeat of Jack Sock in qualifying marked his first Top 20 win in five years, and the 30-year-old would nearly upset Cameron Norrie in the first round.
After kicking off his comeback outside the Top 400, he is projected to return to the Top 250 when the new ATP Rankings are released in a week.
Marburg Open (Marburg, Germany): Less than three months ago, Hugo Dellien got the better of Juan Ignacio Londero in the Sarasota semi-finals, en route to his maiden Challenger title. On Saturday, revenge never tasted so sweet for Londero.
The 24-year-old Argentine stormed back from a set down to dismiss Dellien 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on the clay of Marburg. He secured his second crown of 2018 (also Mexico City), also scoring impressive wins over home hope Dustin Brown, top seed Jurgen Zopp, countryman Carlos Berlocq and #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime along the way.
Londero, who started the year outside the Top 350, is projected to break into the Top 150 for the first time in one week.
A LOOK AHEAD
The action heats up this week with five impressive tournaments. The 2017 Tournament of the Year in Braunschweig, Germany, features another strong draw, headlined by defending champion Nicola Kuhn, top seed Pablo Cuevas and home hope Florian Mayer. Mayer lifted the trophy in 2013.
Meanwhile, the U.S. summer kicks off in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, where Tim Smyczek - finalist in 2009 & '10 - is the top seed. Tommy Paul makes his first Challenger appearance since February, in his return from injury, while Reilly Opelka, Ernesto Escobedo and Bjorn Fratangelo also feature in the draw.
The three-week Canadian swing kicks off in Winnipeg, where 2017 runner-up Peter Polansky leads the field. He is joined by second seed Marcel Granollers and #NextGenATP star Michael Mmoh.
In beautiful Bastad, Sweden, Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer lead the home charge and are joined by top seed Guido Andreozzi and teens Corentin Moutet and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Finally, in Perugia, Italy, Gerald Melzer leads the pack, along with second seed Pablo Andujar and wild card Nicolas Almagro.