Week 42 on the ATP Challenger Tour saw the victories of a pair of familiar names as well maiden success in Germany and glory for a 19-year-old in Las Vegas.
Kozlov shows resilience, Hanfmann makes breakthrough
Stefan Kozlov edged Liam Broady in a tight three-set affair, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the final in Las Vegas.
The 19-year-old got off to a sluggish start against the Brit but broke at the crucial juncture of the second set and out crafted Broady in the decider.
Five breaks of serve were traded in a third set fraught with errors before Broady became embroiled in a row with the umpire after Kozlov broke for a 5-3 lead. However, the Brit roared back before suffering a bout of cramp and Kozlov, who lifted his maiden Challenger crown in Columbus last year, grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Yannick Hanfmann, meanwhile, halted Lorenzo Sonego’s 14-match winning run in the final in Ismaning, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, to win his maiden Challenger crown.
The big-serving German broke his opponent when it mattered as Sonego served to force a deciding set tie-break.
The partisan crowd in attendance leaped to their feet when Hanfmann seized his opportunity but the Italian can reflect on another promising week.
He rose 99 places in the ATP rankings after his title-winning run in Ortisei last week and he is set to surpass his career-high of 259 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
From Russia with love
Further afield Mikhail Youzhny prevailed from a high-quality field in Ningbo to win his fifth career Challenger title and his first in 2017.
The Russian breezed past Taro Daniel, 6-1, 6-1, in Sunday’s final to vindicate his decision to skip his hometown tour-level event in Moscow.
Youzhny was in imperious form all week, failing to drop a single set and losing only eight points on serve against the Japanese in the final.
Lastly, Federico Delbonis avenged his disappointing showing in Buenos Aires last week by cruising to the title in Cali.
The Argentine saw off Guilherme Clezar, 7-6(10), 7-5, in the final to record his second Challenger success of the season.
Clezar, who was infamously fined for making a racist gesture in a Davis Cup tie against Japan earlier this year, could not hide his disappointment at another near-miss as his search for a first Challenger title since 2013 goes on.
Delbonis relinquished only a single set through five matches in Colombia and impressively dispatched fifth-seed Gerald Melzer for the loss of only three games in the semifinal.