Thanks to Visa Mishap, Ironman McGee Wins 1st CH Title
Last week, James McGee was not in the draw at the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, U.S.A. Now, Irish eyes are smiling on the Dublin native after claiming his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title. The 29 year old rallied past Ernesto Escobedo 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Sunday's final.
The circumstances surrounding McGee's win make it even more remarkable. Initially scheduled to play at the tournament in Nanchang, China, he was denied a visa by the Chinese government due to the G20 Summit in nearby Hangzhou. With visas being rejected for foreigners, McGee was forced to reassess his options and would choose to enter qualifying in Cary. He battled all week for the crown, reeling off eight wins in eight days.
"It's a dream for me to finally get a Challenger title," McGee told ATPWorldTour.com. "Last year, I was in the final in two events, in San Luis Potosi and Savannah, and it didn't quite happen there. In the middle of the year I had a surgery on my knee and it was a blow to my confidence. I wasn't feeling as good as I knew I could be. But in the last few months I've been feeling better and playing better.
"Coming into this event, I thought I was playing well but I never thought I'd win the whole thing. To win eight matches in a row is amazing."
The sixth qualifier to prevail in 2016 - one more than last year - McGee is just the third player from Ireland to lift an ATP Challenger Tour trophy, joining Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen. He soars to a Top 200 return at No. 194 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
"It's nice to be part of the club (with Niland and Sorensen), to now have said that I won a title. It's not my biggest goal in tennis, but it's a step in the right direction and I'm looking forward to what's next. The win puts me in the Top 200 range and it's a step forward to get in the Top 100 and play in the biggest tournaments in the world."
Pekao Szczecin Open (Szczecin, Poland): Alessandro Giannessi never wants September to end. The 26 year old is playing inspired tennis this month after qualifying for his first Grand Slam and reaching the second round at the US Open, followed by a maiden ATP Challenger Tour title on the clay of Szczecin, Poland. The tournament welcomed 3,400 people for the final, which capped a record week of around 25,000.
Giannessi did not drop a set all week, upsetting third seed Dustin Brown 6-2, 6-3 in Sunday's final. The Italian, who entered the US Open at World No. 243 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has risen nearly 100 spots to a career-high No. 145. Fourth time was the charm for Giannessi after falling in his first three Challenger finals, all on home soil.
"It was just a perfect match in my performance," said Giannessi. "The last few weeks were very good for me and I feel that I finally found my form... This is my first title, so no wonder I'm so happy. Throughout the week everything went my way. I feel that I played very well and I feel that I deserve this trophy, and it's really a wonderful feeling."
Banjaluka 2016 (Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina): Appearing in his sixth ATP Challenger Tour final of the year, Adam Pavlasek claimed his third career title. The Czech defeated Serbia's Miljan Zekic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, rallying for the win in one hour and 54 minutes. Pavlasek, who cracked the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time earlier this year, ascends to a career-high World No. 81.
Amex-Istanbul Challenger (Istanbul, Turkey): The 29th edition of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Istanbul featured No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Sunday's final. After a wild 72 minutes, Malek Jaziri stormed back for a 1-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Dudi Sela. It was the Tunisian's fourth straight win a Challenger final and third victory of the year, following title runs Guadalajara and Le Gosier.