Coric Prevails In Barranquilla; Almagro Wins First Challenger Title In 11 Years
A LOOK BACK
Claro Open Barranquilla (Barranquilla, Colombia): World No. 33 Borna Coric ran away with the Claro Open Barranquilla title, dropping just one set en route to his second Challenger crown. The 18-year-old Croatian, who is one of four teens in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, downed Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-4, 6-1 in Sunday’s final. Coric is the highest-ranked player to enter a Challenger event this year and highest since Philipp Kohlshcreiber in Orleans 2014. He won his first title exactly one year ago in Izmir, Turkey.
AON Open Challenger (Genova, Italy): The AON Open Challenger received co-Challenger of the Year honours in 2014 and continues to set the standard on the circuit, boasting a packed centre court every day and night. This year, the €106,500 event was won by former World No. 9 Nicolas Almagro. Postponed to Monday at 9am due to heavy rain, Almagro would win the final 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-4 over Italy’s Marco Cecchinato. The Spaniard returned to the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since a foot injury derailed his 2014 season, ascending to World No. 84. He improved to 5-1 in finals on the circuit, winning his first title since hoisting the trophy in Kiev nearly 11 years ago.
TEAN International (Alphen, Netherlands): Top seed Damir Dzumhur survived a rocky final against home favourite Igor Sijsling in Alphen, earning his second Challenger title of the year and fifth overall 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in 78 minutes. The Bosnia-Herzegovina native previously triumphed in Santo Domingo in February. He further solidified his place in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, rising to a career-high World No. 85. Sijsling, who won the title in 2011 (d. Struff), dropped to 6-8 in finals on the circuit.
LIII Copa Sevilla (Sevilla, Spain): More than 1,200 spectators filed into the Real Club de Tenis Betis on Saturday and they would witness the end of one of the greatest streaks in ATP Challenger Tour history. Top seed and defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta carried an 11-0 mark in finals when he entered the Copa Sevilla title match against World No. 248 Pedro Cachin, but the Argentine refused to roll over. Carreno Busta would be denied No. 12, falling 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 32 minutes, as Cachin notched his first Challenger title. The 20 year old had knocked off three seeded Spaniards during the tournament, including second seed and three-time champion Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first round. The win marks the end of an era at the historic event, which had seen a Spaniard hoist the trophy on home soil in seven consecutive years.
Road To The Shanghai Rolex Masters (Shanghai, China): A player from China has never emerged victorious on the ATP Challenger Tour. The wait will continue after Yuki Bhambri rallied from an early deficit to deny Di Wu 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(3) in the final of the Road To The Shanghai Rolex Masters. Bhambri has now won one title in each of the past four years, adding to crowns in Chennai 2014, Traralgon 2013 and Fergana 2012. Wu looked to have stolen the momentum in the third set after saving six match points while serving down 5-4. He escaped the marathon 15-minute game but would not survive the ensuing tie-break, falling after two hours and one minute. Chinese men are 0-3 in finals on the ATP Challenger Tour, with Wu also falling in Beijing 2012 and Ze Zhang in Fergana 2010.
Morocco Tennis Tour – Meknes (Meknes, Morocco): The eighth edition of the Meknes stop on the Morocco Tennis Tour, featured a pair of Spaniards in the final. Top seed Daniel Munoz-de la Nava continued his winning ways, extending his ATP Challenger Tour leading match wins total to 38 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Roberto Carballes Baena in just under an hour and a half on Saturday. Munoz-de la Nava is the first Spaniard to triumph in Meknes since Ivan Navarro won the inaugural edition in 2008. The 33 year old, who became the 14th-oldest player to crack the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time the week prior, won his third title in five finals this year. The World No. 89 is one of five players to win three titles in 2015, joining Aljaz Bedene, Inigo Cervantes, Hyeon Chung and Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Trophee des Alpilles (Saint-Remy, France): Fifth seed Ivan Dodig needed one hour and 15 minutes to dispatch Nils Langer in the Trophee des Alpilles final. The former singles World No. 29 claimed his first ATP Challenger Tour title in five years and third overall. The Croat’s triumph ends a run of four straight years of a Frenchman hoisting the trophy on home soil. Dodig rises to a projected World No. 105 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, having fallen out of the Top 100 for the first time in three years in mid-April.
What The Players Said
Almagro: “I want to congratulate Marco Cecchinato because he is really the future of Italian tennis. I thank this tournament. I have never seen a Challenger with so many people. It is really beautiful. I'm happy for this victory and I thank the organisation and the people of Genoa.”
Bhambri: “It's my third trip to Shanghai and I really enjoy coming here. Last year I won the doubles and this year I got the singles, so obviously I do very well in here and I really hope to come back again. This is definitely one of the nicest challengers that I've played. Everything is very convenient for the players and the city is very nice as well, so hopefully you guys keep hosting the tournament.”
Dzumhur: “I’ve had some difficult weeks with problems with my game and bad draws, but in Alphen I felt good from the beginning. I really liked the conditions here. The weather was great and not too hot. In the final, all I could hope was that Sijsling couldn't continue his high level from the second set.
“I am happy the Bosnian fans came to support me. It didn't feel like an away match. The Bosnian fans give me energy. I hope to come back to Alphen but I hope that my ranking doesn't bring me to Alphen next year.”
Sijsling: “I am happy to be in another final again. The last couple of weeks I wanted to look how my knee felt after the injury, but unfortunately I have a new injury in my arm now. I will have some weeks of practise and prepare for the indoor season, which I am looking forward to. I am really pleased with my level this week.”
Carreno Busta: “The fans have filled the stands in all the matches I have played, regardless of the time, and have made me feel at home. It is difficult to find a tournament that you feel as good at as in Sevilla.”
There are six tournaments on four continents this week, highlighted by the €106,500 event in Szczecin, Poland. Last year’s runner-up Jan-Lennard Struff (l. to Brown) is back as the seventh seed, while Pablo Carreno Busta leads the field. Four Top 100 players are in the draw in Istanbul, including top seed Sergiy Stakhovsky. Seventh seed and rising teenage talent Elias Ymer is seeking his second crown of the year (Caltanissetta). Meanwhile, in Banja Luka, three former champions are in the draw, including 2012 titlist Victor Hanescu, 2009 champ and top seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver and 2008 champion Ilija Bozoljac.
In Asia, second seed Go Soeda is the defending champion at the $50,000 event in Nanchang, China. In North America, the inaugural Cary Tennis Championships is led by Bjorn Fratangelo and Austin Krajicek, who opens against young gun Stefan Kozlov. Finally, in Africa, Daniel Munoz-de la Nava looks to go back to back on Moroccan soil at the tournament in Kenitra. He is four match wins from notching 200 on the ATP Challenger Tour.