The ATP Challenger Tour had an action packed week which spanned four different tournaments on four different continents. Tournaments were located in Puebla, Santiago, Zhuhai, and Jonkoping. Each site held competitive fields in singles and doubles. Some saw seeds crash out early while others saw the favorites take home the title.
It was no surprise at the Cachantun Cup in Santiago that top seed Facundo Bagnis took home the title. The Argentinean has been on a roll as he has found his way back into the top 100 while claiming his third challenger title of the year and eighth overall. In the final Bagnis defeated third seeded Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3. It was not an easy match as Bagnis had to claw his way back in after losing a tough first set. The Argentinean came into the final in easy fashion as he dispatched four opponents in a row, all in straight sets. It proved to help him in the final as he had the fitness to make a proper come back while breaking Dutra Silva's rhythm. The Cachantun Cup has become one of Bagnis' favorite places as he defended his title from 2015 and also won in 2013.
In doubles top seeds Julio Peralta/Hans Podlipnik-Castillo took out second seeds Bagnis/Maximo Gonzalez 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-5. It was a final featuring an all Chilean team and an all Argentinean team. High quality doubles was shown as the match tie break ultimately decided matters.
Hands down the most excited tournament of the week was at the RC Hotel Open in Jonkoping, Sweden. It was the first time the Challenger tour returned to Sweden in 20 years. In one of the best finals of the year veteran Andrey Golubev took out Next Generation star Karen Khachanov 6-7(9), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in an astonishing two hours and 44 minutes. Golubev dug extremely deep by saving four match points in the second set at 5-6. With no separation between the two players the entire match, the Kazakh was able to escape the title in the third set tie break. The Russian teen who was at a career high of 145 in the world was unable to make the most of his chances but Golubev pushed him and really stayed tough in the close moments.
Golubev shared his thoughts post-match, “I’m happy to win, but a little bit tired. The match was strange. The first set I should have won, then in the second I had more chances in the beginning and then he had much more chances. He was serving for the match, had match points in the second set and in the third set again. It was up and down. I’m happy that I won.
“Just play in that moment (on the four match points saved). I had some bad luck with the net on break point and I was going a little bit crazy. But in tennis that can happen, so it’s an unbelievable sport for that. Maybe he got tense.”
Here are highlights from the final:
In doubles, seeded players fell out early as Swedish doubles teams played well in their home tournament. A rare wild card only doubles final took place as Isak Arvidsson/Fred Simonsson took fellow Swedish team Markus Eriksson/Milos Sekulic 6-3 3-6 10-6. Both teams were very low ranked and played the best tennis of their career in front of their home fans.
German tennis player Dustin Brown was taken by surprise this week as he lost in singles to Arvidsson and to wild card doubles finalist Eriksson/Sekulic in doubles. The German took to social media to express his feelings about his opponents play.
Seeds crashed out early at the Abierto de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. Top seed Benjamin Becker was upset by Serbian Pedja Krstin 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2). The Serbian brought his good form into the later rounds but it was not enough as he lost to Colombian Eduardo Struvay 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Struvay also had an upset as he took out seventh seed James Ward easily 6-3, 6-3 in the second round. It was the Colombian's second ATP Challenger title of his career. His first title came in November with a win on home soil in Bogota.
Doubles saw seasoned pair Marcus Daniell/Artem Sitak defeat top seeds Santiago Gonzalez/Mate Pavic 3-6, 6-2, 12-10. The third seeds scraped out the victory as it came right down to the wire. The first two sets were completely opposite for both teams as each set was won definitively. A match tiebreaker that went back and forth was the ultimate decider as Daniell/Sitak became victorious.
The sole tournament in Asia this week was held at the ATP Challenger Zhuhai in Zhuhai, China. Fourth seeded Italian Thomas Fabbiano brought in an impressive performance to win the title over Chinese home favorite Ze Zhang 5-7, 6-1, 6-3. After a great first set by Zhang, Fabbiano fought back and made it a completely different match. The Chinese player had no answers in the second and third sets. It was the debut for the ATP Challenger Zhuhai which was a $50,000 event.
An all-Asian doubles final took place as third seeds Mao-Xin Gong/Chu-Huan Yi took out Cheng-Peng Hsieh/Di Wu 2-6 6-2 10-5 for the title. Hsieh/Wu played great in the first set but failed to continue their good play in the second set and match tie break.
Fabbiano: “I am very happy to win the title here in Zhuhai, especially in this beautiful venue. I felt some pressure today, because there are so many fans on site and they are all cheering for Zhang, but I still managed to win the match after I lost the first set. I am very happy about my performance today.”
Bagnis: “I'd like to thank my team and all my friends and family in Argentina. They gave me strength. This week was great. I won again here, it feels like a second home for me.”
The ATP Challenger Tour keeps it moving this week with stops at five different tournaments. Irving, Guadalajara, Drummondville, Guangzhou, and Kazan are the host cities this week.
With players losing early in Indian Wells, many have moved on to play at the Irving Challenger which is located in Texas. It is one of the strongest fields the tour has seen with world number 38 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Gilles Muller as the top seeds.
Qualifying and first rounds have already gotten underway and the tournaments will go until the end of the week.
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