Challenger Tour: Top seed Donald Young shocked in Happy Valley first round, big win for Omar Jasika - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Top seed Donald Young shocked in Happy Valley first round, big win for Omar Jasika

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Ruben Bemelmans got his 2017 campaign off to a strong start with a win over top seed Donald Young in Happy Valley (Image via ZImbio.com)

In the first day of plenty of match-ups on the Challenger Tour, there were a number of results that defied ranking positions. This is often not too surprising at the beginning of the season, as many players lack match fitness and though they may have trained all off-season, will still be a little rusty.

 

Noumea:

(5) Kenny De Schepper defeats Jose Hernandez-Fernandez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. The tall Dutchman De Schepper struggled against a player whose best results almost exclusively come on clay. Though De Schepper is also rather effective on clay, he is more versatile across all surfaces, and it showed here in the last two sets, dropping just four games as the fifth seed avoided an early exit.

Cameron Norrie defeats (3) Duckhee Lee 6-4, 6-4. An excellent win for a young Briton who has gone under the radar somewhat in recent years. Following the successes of Dan Evans, James Ward, and Liam Broady (at times), Norrie at just twenty-one pulled off one of the best wins of his career. Lee, despite moving into the Top 150 at the back end of last year still retains the inconsistency that sees him lose to lowly ranked players at times.

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Guilherme Clezar 6-3, 7-5. Not a surprising result. Like Hernandez-Fernandez Clezar best results come on clay, with meagre performances on other surfaces. The eighteen year-old Tsitsipas is predicted to do big things in 2017, and could break into the Top 200 with a couple more wins more wins here.

Tristan Lamasine defeats (6) Dennis Novikov 6-4, 7-6. Novikov continues his miserable run that started in the second half of 2016, where he lost early in many of the American Challengers. Lamasine saved all six break points he faced, and breaking on his single opportunity in the first set.

(8) Matthias Bourgue defeats Mitchell Krueger 6-1 6-4. Well negotiated by Bourgue, as the inconsistent Krueger has the capacity to defeat seeded players when in the mood.

Other results: Nikola Milojevic defeats Andre Ghem 6-3, 6-3. 

Adrian Menendez Macieras defeats (7) Stefano Napolitano 7-6, 6-4.

Happy Valley:

Ruben Bemelmans defeats (1) Donald Young 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. A blow to Donald Young, whose form could soon see him drop out of the Top 100. The Belgian who many will remember for an entertaining match against Andy Murray in the 2015 Davis Cup Final was always the toughest first round match up for the seeds in this event, and so it has proved.

(3) Denis Kudla defeats Uladzimir Ignatik 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. In 2015 Denis Kudla was in the fourth round of Wimbledon having beaten Pablo Cuevas and Alexander Zverev. Now ranked 131, the American struggled in this match. Blown away in the first set, and quickly pegged back after he broke first in the second, the third seed fought hard to defeat his Belorussian opponent.

Omar Jasika defeats (5) Norbert Gombos 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. Arguably the shock of the day on the Challenger Tour. I was critical of Jasika in my profile of Alex De Minaur, but this result is arguably the best of his career. Gombos rebounded from a tough first three quarters of 2016 to win two Challengers late in the year. However, the tall Slovak was ousted here by the young Aussie whose potential has never been doubted, but whose consistency has never seen progress.

(4) Peter Polansky defeats Marc Polmans 6-1 4-6 6-4. The Canadian Polansky has returned from injury to become a solid Challenger player once again, but was tested by the young Aussie.The nineteen year-old took the second set before going down in a tight fourth.

(8) Marton Fucsovics defeats Marcelo Arevalo 6-1 3-6 6-3. I predicted a win for Arevalo here, and though he lost, he gave the eighth seed a tough match. The match hinged on break point conversions, as Fucsovics was able to convert four times from just six chances, an excellent conversion rate.

Matthias Bachinger defeats (2) Joao Souza 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. Unsurprising as Souza is a clay specialist, and though Bachinger has had his injury troubles, his serve is excellent. Souza failed to break from just two chances, winning his set in a tie break. The score could have been far more convincing, as Bachinger only went three for thirteen on break opportunities in the match, though it proved to be enough in the end.

Other results: Uchiyama defeats McGee 6-0 6-4

Gojowczyk defeats Tepavac 6-4 6-4

Coppejans defeats Bublik 3-6 6-2 6-3

Saville defeats Purcell 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Bolt defeats Ito 6-3 6-2.

Brands defeats Mott 7-6 6-7 6-4

Ivashka defeats Satral 6-3 6-4

De Loore defeats Djere 6-2 6-3

 

 

 

ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha

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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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Andy Murray defeated in the final of the Biella Challenger

The former world number was runner-up to the Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko. Both will feature in next week’s event in the same location

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Andy Murray - ATP Challenger Biella 2021 (Credit: Felice Calabrò)

Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.

 

But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.

In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).

Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa

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ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021

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The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.

 

Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021. 

The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper. 

France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February). 

Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players. 

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