Olivieri Adds To Argentine Challenger Success; Shelton Goes Back-to-Back
Argentine Genaro Alberto Olivieri and American Ben Shelton etched their names in the ATP Challenger Tour history book this week. Olivieri triumphed at the Uruguay Open to add to Argentina’s record-setting 22 Challenger titles this year while Shelton continued his sizzling run in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he sealed his second consecutive title. Olivieri and Shelton are among six Challenger champions this week.
After rain forced the final to be completed Monday, Olivieri captured his maiden Challenger title by defeating countryman Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-3 to win the Montevideo Challenger.
Olivieri, who climbs to a career-high 191 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, is the 15th different Argentine champion of this year, marking a Challenger Tour record for the most different winners from a single country in a season. The Bragado native is also one of the record-setting 50 first-time Challenger winners in 2022.
In the championship match, the 24-year-old avenged this past month’s loss in Lima to Etcheverry, who was seeded second in Montevideo. Olivieri needed three hours, 31 minutes to get past his countryman Etcheverry, tying the Challenger Tour record for the longest final (Winnetka 2015, Devvarman d. Nguyen).
Etcheverry, 23, earned his 40th Challenger win of the season Saturday, when he ended Daniel Altmaier’s 13-match winning streak. Etcheverry is one of three players to achieve 40 Challenger wins this season: Quentin Halys (43), Constant Lestienne (40). In 2021, the Argentine captured the season’s second-most Challenger match wins (49), behind Benjamin Bonzi (50).
Shelton doubled-up by taking down close friend Christopher Eubanks in a Challenger final for the second consecutive week. Shelton survived Eubanks in a deciding-set tie-break, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(4), to claim the Knoxville Challenger.
Shelton, who is on a 10-match winning streak, is the youngest American (20 years, one month) to win in consecutive weeks since Taylor Fritz (17 years, 11 months) in 2015 (Sacramento and Fairfield Challengers).
Challenger Win Percentage Leaders (2022)
|Jack Draper (GBR)||24-4||85.7|
|Wu Yibing (CHN)||23-4||85.2|
|Quentin Halys (FRA)||43-10||81.1|
|Ugo Humbert (FRA)||19-5||79.2|
|Ben Shelton (USA)||30-8||78.9|
The former University of Florida star has been building upon his NCAA singles title in May. Since capturing the college crown, Shelton has reached five Challenger finals. Following the title at the indoor hard court event, the #NextGenATP lefty rises to a career-high 108.
Players from France are aiming to make a late season push to surpass Argentina’s 22 Challenger titles. Hugo Gaston was crowned champion at the Open de Roanne Auvergne-Rhone Alpes to collect France’s 21st Challenger title of the year. The 22-year-old defeated Henri Laaksonen 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-1 to win his maiden Challenger title.
Gaston, who reached a career-high 58 this summer, has reached at least the semi-finals in his past four Challenger tournaments.
Hugo Gaston in action at the 2022 Roanne Challenger. Credit: Youri Appoline-Darsieres
In May, the lefty reached the third round of his home Slam, Roland Garros, where he upset then-World No. 20 Alex de Minaur in an opening round five-set thriller.
In the Challenger Tour’s first all-Hungarian final, Marton Fucsovics defeated Fabian Marozsan 6-2, 6-4 to claim the Peugeot Slovak Open.
Fucsovics, who reached a career-high 31 in March 2019, is a five-time Challenger champion. Sunday’s victory in Bratislava marked the 30-year-old’s first Challenger title since June 2017 (Ilkey).
Marton Fucsovics at the 2022 Bratislava Challenger. Credit: Roman Benický
"I am very happy with winning a trophy again after four years (ATP 250 in Geneva, June 2018),” Fucsovics said. “I played very well all week. My goal was to end the year in the Top 100, which I will achieve thanks to this title. It’s a great finish.”
At the Calgary National Bank Challenger, fifth seed Dominik Koepfer defeated Aleksandar Vukic 6-2, 6-4 to win his first Challenger title since June 2019 (Ilkey).
Dominik Koepfer celebrates winning the 2022 Calgary Challenger. Credit: Kyle Clapham
Koepfer, a former standout at Tulane University, battled an upper arm injury earlier this season that limited him to just four tournaments in the first five months of the year. The 28-year-old, who gave up one set all week in Canada, has reached the final at two of his past three Challenger tournaments (Cary, l. Mmoh).
South Korean Seong-Chan Hong advanced through qualifying en route to claiming the Unicharm Trophy Ehime in Matsuyama, Japan. Hong defeated Taiwanese Tung-Lin Wu 6-3, 6-2 in the championship match.
Hong is the third different Korean champion since 2010 (Hyeon Chung, Soonwoo Kwon). The 25-year-old, who played seven matches in eight days, dropped just one set all week to capture his maiden Challenger title. Hong, 2015 Australian Open boys’ singles finalist (l. Safiullin), is the 20th qualifier to win a Challenger title this year. The Japanese title propels him to a career-high 252.
Seong-Chan Hong triumphs at the Matsuyama Challenger. Credit: Yoshiharu Yokoyama