Wu Saves 6 Championship Points To Take Indy Challenger Title

Francesco Maestrelli becomes sixth Italian #NextGenATP Challenger Tour title winner of the year
July 25, 2022
Wu Yibing en route to a dramatic ATP Challenger Tour victory in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Larry Lawrence
Wu Yibing en route to a dramatic ATP Challenger Tour victory in Indianapolis on Sunday. By Grant Thompson

China’s highest-ranked men’s player Wu Yibing continued his sizzling run on the ATP Challenger Tour Sunday when he saved six championship points to claim the Rajeev Ram Foundation Indy Challenger. Wu erased the match points in the second set en route to a 6-7(10), 7-6(13), 6-3 victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic in 2 hours and 54 minutes. The win lifts Wu to a career-high 174 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“Today means a lot. I was crying like a baby after the match,” said the former junior No. 1.

In a big week for Chinese players, Zhang Zhizhen also reached the final at the Citta di Trieste Challenger in Italy.

Wu is the first Asian-born men’s player to win three titles in the same season since Alexander Bublik in 2019. Boasting an 18-2 record on the Challenger Tour this season, he is attempting to become the first Chinese man to reach the Top 100.

The on-court battle proved to be both physically and mentally exhausting. Wu’s remarkable effort to save six match points is the most in a Challenger final since Marcos Giron saved six against Ivo Karlovic in Houston in 2019. “Both tie-breaks were more mental than (about) tennis,” Wu said.

The 22-year-old has relied on his mental toughness and perseverance throughout his young career. In 2017, he was crowned the boys’ singles and doubles champion (with Hsu Yu-hsiou) at the US Open and won his first Challenger title in Shanghai. However, the past three years Wu has been sidelined due to various injuries and the pandemic.

The inaugural Rajeev Ram Foundation Indy Challenger is hosted by doubles World No. 2 Rajeev Ram and his foundation.

Home favourite Francesco Passaro became the sixth Italian #NextGenATP player to win an ATP Challenger Tour title this season when he defeated China’s Zhang Zhizhen 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Citta di Trieste Challenger.

The 21-year-old strengthened his hold on ninth place in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan by claiming his maiden Challenger title, as he looks to book a place at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November.

Passaro is the 20th #NextGenATP winner in 2022. After falling short in his first two Challenger finals earlier this year, he now joins Lorenzo Musetti, Luca Nardi, Francesco Maestrelli, Flavio Cobolli, and Matteo Arnaldi as Next Gen Italian champions this season. The title in Trieste propels Passaro to a career-high 144 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

On the hard courts in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Roman Safiullin rallied from a break down in the deciding set to defeat home hope Denis Yevseyev 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) and capture the President’s Cup. The 24-year-old, who first came onto the scene by winning the boys’ singles at the 2015 Australian Open, is now 2-0 in Challenger finals and his latest title run will move him to a career-high 119 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Safiullin has played some of his best tennis this season. He earned a pair of victories at the season-opening ATP Cup and the following month he achieved his career-best win by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in Marseille before falling to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals.

<a href=''>Zsombor Piros</a> wins the 40th anniversary <a href=''>Tampere Open</a> in Finland.

Photo: Zsombor Piros claimed his first Challenger Tour title when he won the 40th anniversary edition of the Tampere Open in Finland. Credit: Tampere Open.

Hungary’s Zsombor Piros claimed his first Challenger Tour title when he won the 40th anniversary edition of the Tampere Open in Finland, by defeating former junior No. 1 Harold Mayot 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

The 22-year-old became the fifth Hungarian champion in Challenger history. Piros will launch to a career-high 139 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 2017 Australian Open Boys’ Singles Champion is the second-highest ranked Hungarian men’s player, behind Marton Fucsovics.

“I am extremely happy on my first ATP Challenger title. This has been a long journey from juniors to this moment. When I won the Australian Open juniors title in 2017, I thought the transition would be faster and easier than it has been. I have worked so hard and now I just hope more will come,” Piros said.

In Pozoblanco, Spain, Frenchman Constant Lestienne produced a dominant performance by winning the title without dropping a set, defeating countryman Gregoire Barrere 6-0, 7-6(3) in the final to win the Open Tenis Ciudad de Pozoblanco trophy. Lestienne now holds five Challenger titles, three coming in Spain.

The Frenchman has been on a hot streak, winning 10 of his past 11 matches, including last month’s Malaga Challenger. In Pozoblanco, he won five of 10 sets 6-1 or better. The 30-year-old today climbs to a career-high 105 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.


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