Week 41 on the ATP Challenger Tour rewarded its ardent supporters with a fairytale champion in Italy, a career-best win in California as well as a pair of victors who have mastered the quality of perseverance.
McDonald prevails, Sonego defies the odds
The silverware in Fairfield belonged to a Californian in the ever-developing Mackenzie McDonald.
The American famously won the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships in both singles and doubles in 2016 and he finally made his breakthrough with a convincing 6-4, 6-2 triumph over fellow American Bradley Klahn in the final.
Mackenzie broke last week’s Monterrey finalist five times throughout the hour-long contest and it was perhaps fitting that it was a Bay Area native who swept the prize.
Play was interrupted earlier in the week with the air quality deemed unsuitable in the area after the nearby forest fires wreaked havoc.
Only one match was played on Wednesday but play resumed the following day and by the weekend the air quality had visibly improved.
McDonald dropped only a single set all week and his run included a momentous victory over the number two seed Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.
Likewise, the Italian Challenger in Ortisei threw up a home-grown winner as Lorenzo Sonego moved past the qualifier Tim Puetz, 6-4, 6-4, in the final.
The 22-year-old, who entered as a wild card, secured victory over the German without dropping serve to add to his Futures title won earlier this year on home soil.
The world number 364 scored impressive victories over seventh-seeded Oscar Otte and regular Challenger threat Matteo Donati to win his first hard court title.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Kicker edged Horacio Zeballos in a thrilling all-Argentine final, 6-7(5), 6-0, 7-5, in the Buenos Aires Challenger.
The latter fashioned two championship points as he served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set but he wilted under the pressure as Kicker claimed the next three games to steal victory.
It marks the 25-year-old’s first success on the Challenger tour in 2017 and his third title on the red dirt.
Kicker ousted last week’s Campinas champion Gastao Elias in the semifinal - halting the Portuguese’s eight-match winning run - in a thrilling week.
Elsewhere the 34-year-old Guillermo Garcia-Lopez won his fourth career Challenger title and second in 2017 as he brushed aside Kamil Majchrzak, 6-1, 7-6(1), in the final in Tashkent.
The Spaniard, who triumphed on the clay in Scheveningen earlier this year, did not drop a set en route to his triumph and it included an impressive win over the top-seed and home favourite Denis Istomin.
They met in the semifinals on Friday with Garcia-Lopez prevailing 7-6(5), 6-4.
The triumph in Uzbekistan was the Spaniard’s fifth career title on clay — excluding Futures events — and it marks the first time since 2015 that he has won multiple titles in a calendar year.