Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Holger Rune Wins First Challenger Title, Jack Sock Fights Six Match Points

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For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Challenger Tour will host five events in the same week, which happened fairly regularly before. The crazy thing is that all three surfaces will be on the line – turf in Nottingham, hard courts in Orlando and three other clay tournaments. But before we get to that, re-read this week’s action:

Biella

Holger Rune contested the back-to-back Challenger Tour finals, although there wasn’t even a single quarter-final on this circuit until last week. The 2019 Roland Garros champion lost a dramatic final to Gastao Elias in Oeiras, but got another shot against the Portuguese in the second round here. But before he could even make it to that match, he had to go through a thriller against Daniel Altmaier that included two match point saves – one via good serve plus a forehand, the other via high quality rally. finished on a lapel. winner. Rune’s fitness trained him in the past, but the Dane survived the long physical clash in good form and despite having to play ten games in thirteen days, he was able to play at the peak of his ability. In the semifinals, he beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry in three sets.

Marco trungelliti was among the best players in Roland Garros qualifying, but failed to advance to the main draw at the hands of Mackenzie McDonald. The Argentine, however, confirmed his great form at Biella, essentially tearing up his table until the quarter-finals. Slight problems were caused to him by Matteo Berrettini’s brother Jacopo, but once Trungelliti survived the initial attack he regained control. In the semifinals, he gave up a set and a break ahead of Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, but managed to regroup well and win in the final. The Argentine made his eighth final on the Challenger circuit.

Rune came out playing very aggressively, especially on the backhand side which is generally quite docile. But that couldn’t last long and Trungelliti would soon start to take more initiative, able to work through her dropshot. The tied game seemed to evolve in favor of the Argentine as Trungelliti first led 4-2, then served for the game at 6-5. Rune did manage to make a tie-break, however, and by the end of business in the deciding set he showed a lot more intention outside the baseline. Using his forehand aggressively, he was able to sail to a 7-5 victory.

While the next edition of the ATP rankings will be released after Roland Garros, it is extremely unlikely that Rune will be barred from making his top 250 debut. Biella’s two finalists are due to play in Lyon next week.

Small stone

Often struggling with his motivation in recent years, this was clearly not the case with Jack sock this week. The American saved six match points on the way to the final, three in a 3h 28min clash against Ernesto Escobedo, then three more in another nearly three hour battle against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski. Sock was also in the doubles with Mitchell Krueger, but after all the marathons he’s had to compete in, the 28-year-old opted to retire ahead of the quarter-finals. In the last four, he faced his doubles partner and won again in three, although this time the conditions were not so dire.

Emilio Gomez, the son of 1990 Roland Garros champion Andres, made a splash in Paris last year by qualifying for the main draw. Since he couldn’t repeat this feat in 2021, he went straight to Little Rock, Arkansas and was much more successful there. On his way to the final, he didn’t lose a single set, knocking out North Carolina State star Alexis Galarneau or great Portuguese doubles player Goncalo Oliveira. Granted, the lower half was much weaker than the upper half and did not feature any Sock, Escobedo, or Kwiatkowski class names. Therefore, getting into Gomez’s final form was still under a slight question mark.

The whole week had been constantly slowed down by delayed rain, but away for a minute in the second set the final went off without a hitch. Sock performed very well on serve from the start, dominating his games and being able to look for openings on the Ecuadorian’s delivery. He finally found one just before the tie-break in the first game and took an early break in the second. Gomez’s chance to come back into the game was a three straight break point opportunity at 3-4, but it was to no avail as Sock was able to raise his level again.

The American won his third Challenger title (the first in eight years) and his first trophy since the famous Paris Masters, which allowed him to climb to 8th place in the ATP ranking. Maybe this week can be a good springboard to get back at least part of the ranking places. The two finalists will play on the Challenger Tour next week, this time in Orlando.

Challengers Tour Magic drama:

Holger Rune exclaimed multiple homophobic remarks towards Tomas Martin Etcheverry. He then apologized on his Instagram, saying that “he loves diversity more than anyone.” Nevertheless, the whole situation leaves a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth:

It might sound bad, but other than the occasional 0-40 point, Sock was really focused this week:

Events organized next week:

  • Nottingham Open (Challenger 125, grass)
  • Open Sopra Steria de Lyon (Challenger 100, clay)
  • Slovakian Open (Bratislava, Challenger 90, clay)
  • Almaty Challenger (Challenger 80, clay)
  • Orlando Open II (Challenger 80, difficult)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Dan Evans, Frances Tiafoe, Andreas Seppi, Kevin Anderson (Nottingham)
  • Pablo Cuevas, Fernando Verdasco (Lyon)
  • Norbert Gombos, Federico Coria (Bratislava)

First round matches to follow:

Nottingham

  • (1 / CM) Dan Evans vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
  • Prajnesh Gunneswaran v (8) Kamil Majchrzak
  • Marc-Andrea Huesler v (2) Frances Tiafoe

Lyonnais

  • Marco Trungelliti vs. Tristan Lamasine
  • Alejandro Tabilo vs. (4) Daniel Elahi Galan
  • (6) Benjamin Bonzi vs. Oscar Otte
  • Sumit Nagal vs. (2) Fernando Verdasco

Bratislava

  • Maximilian Marterer vs. Filip Horansky
  • Sebastian Baez vs. Renzo Olivo
  • (RP) Andrey Kuznetsov vs. (3) Hugo Dellien
  • Zdenek Kolar vs. (2) Federico Coria

Almaty

  • Zizou Bergs vs. Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera
  • Chun-Hsin Tseng vs. Felipe Meligeni Alves
  • (5) Lorenzo Giustino vs. Timofey Skatov

Orlando

  • (CM) Oliver Crawford vs. (5) Emilio Gomez
  • (6) Ernesto Escobedo v Thai-Son Kwiatkowski
  • (8) Mitchell Krueger vs. Jack Sock
  • Nicolas Jarry vs. (2) Jason Jung

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