Five things to look forward to on the Challenger Tour in 2017 - UBITENNIS
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ATP Challenger

Five things to look forward to on the Challenger Tour in 2017



Denis Shapovalov is just one name that might use the Challenger Tour to aid a consistency to his game in 2017 (

With the 2017 season little more than a week from starting, I preview five things that could make the 2017 Challenger Tour almost as enticing a prospect as the ATP Tour.

1. Casper Ruud. The young Norwegian made headlines when he won the Seville Challenger by defeating a number of clay veterans and Top 100 players. Still just eighteen, Ruud is likely an prospect that many ATP tournaments would be pleased to offer a wildcard to boost interest in young talents. Despite this, Ruud will likely look again to the Challenger circuit to solidify a consistent rise up the rankings. Given the wide availability of clay Challengers through most of the year, as clay is the young Norwegian’s best surface to date, we can expect to see a lot of Casper Ruud in the Challengers in 2017.

2. Familiar dominance. Is there is one thing that the Challengers have been able to offer over the last few years, it is the success and consistency of a few select names.  Dudi Sela and Yen Hsun Lu are to the Challenger Tour what the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are to the ATP Tour. With more than forty career Challenger titles to date, Lu and Sela can be expected to continue their Challenger dominance in 2017 after both won titles in 2016.

3. Veteran players. With Tommy Haas claiming he is ready for a final comeback attempt under the watchful eye of Marcelo Rios, and with the likes of Mikhail Youzhny, Tommy Robredo, and Janko Tipsarevic filling out Challenger draws regularly in 2016, you could almost have a draw with ten former top ten players. Such is the level of Challenger play in the current age. Slightly younger veterans who have perhaps started to decline including the likes of Marcel Granollers, and Jeremy Chardy could find themselves more regularly participating in Challenger draws. It could be that high profile players such as Phillipp Kohlschreiber who endured an indifferent 2017 could find themselves playing in Challengers more often.

4. Surprising comebacks. Who would have thought that Florian Mayer would finish the year ranked at no.50 after such hard injury troubles? Almost no one. Yet the German veteran took the tour by storm, playing in Challengers and winning the Halle Open by shocking young German Alexander Zverev in the final. The Challenger circuit is often the first port of call for any player attempting a comeback from long-term injury. Often we do not know which player it will be until they announce it or their name appears in the draw, but it is always exciting to see well-known players make their first competitive steps in a comeback.

5. Graduation. Taylor Fritz, Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev. These are names that have largely moved on from the Challenger circuit (though I suspect we may see Taylor Fritz appear in a few to start the year). It is not a sad feeling seeing these youngsters move up. On the contrary, the Challenger circuit should welcome it. These players are testament to the usefulness and importance of the Challengers as a valuable stepping-stone in a player’s professional progression.Such is the nature of tennis that these and the likes of Frances Tiafoe and Hyeon Chung, who will hope to graduate in 2017, will always be replaced by other top young stars looking to make an impact. Casper Ruud is already featured here, but the likes of Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger Aliassime, and Alex de Minaur are just a few names that we might see more prevalent in the 2017 class.

ATP Challenger

Danielle Collins beats Caroline Garcia to reach the second semifinal of her career in Miami



Danielle Collins beat Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2 in 80 minutes to reach her second semifinal at the Miami Open. Collins became the first qualifier to reach the semifinal in the history of this tournament. 

Collins achieved her third win against a seeded player in five matches over the past seven days. 

Collins dropped just 11 points in nine service games against Garcia and hit 22 winners to Garcia’s 12. 

Collins earned a break in the eighth game and held serve to seal the first set 6-3. The US player broke serve in the third game of the second set and never looked back to close out the match in 1 hout and 19 minutes. 

Collins has extended her record to 4-0 in her head-to-head matches against Garcia and has not lost a set to her French opponent. 

Collins set up a semifinal match against the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Jessica Pegula and Elena Alexandrova, who beat world number one player Iga Swiatek in the fourth round.  

Collins won two WTA titles in Palermo and San José in 2021 but she has not reached a WTA Tour level final since losing to Ashleigh Barty in Melbourne in 2022. 

“I think Caroline Garcia comes out here and fights her butt off. She hits some really strong shots. I don’t think the set scores are a reflection of how close the match really is”, said Collins. 

Garcia beat Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff to reach the quarter finals in Miami for the first time in her career. The French player was troubled by an injury to her right shoulder and received treatment early in the second set. 

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ATP Challenger

Dominic Thiem To Return At Marbella Challenger, Joins Wawrinka In Stacked Field

Dominic Thiem will be joining Stan Wawrinka in making his return to action at the Marbella challenger next week.



Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem (@SK_Tennis - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem will finally make his return to the ATP tour at the Marbella challenger next week.

The Austrian hasn’t played a tennis match since retiring at the grass court event in Mallorca last June due to a wrist injury.

Despite being scheduled to play at the Australian Open and at the Indian Wells-Miami swing, Thiem had to postpone his return as he wasn’t quite ready to compete in matches.

However now Thiem has decided to return as he will begin his clay court swing next week at the Marbella Challenger.

The former Roland Garros finalist took to Instagram to announce the news as he looks to climb back up the rankings.

The world number 50 will face tough competition with former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka also making his comeback at the event in Spain next week.

At the blockbuster event there will also be the likes of Holger Rune, Pablo Cuevas, Jaume Munar and Lucas Pouille competing.

The winner of the event will receive 125 ranking points but much more importantly for Thiem and Wawrinka much needed match practice ahead of a busy European clay-court swing.

Thiem will be the top seed while Wawrinka will be unseeded with their being a possibility of the two heavyweights meeting in the opening round.

Play will start on Monday with Jaume Munar being the defending champion.

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ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha



Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev. 

Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes. 

The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3. 

Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week. 

“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. 

Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1.  “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili. 

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