The ATP Challenger Tour 2015 calendar comprised 166 tournaments with prize money of $40,000 to $220,000. It was the 39th edition of Challenger tournaments cycle and the 7th under the name of the “ATP Challenger Tour”. Tennis TourTalk is having an annual review in eleven parts to close the year.
The month started the week of 4 May with five tournaments. Korean teenager Hyeon Chung triumphed on home soil, winning the $100,000 Busan Open, played on hard courts in the country’s second largest city after Seoul with a population of approximately 3.6 million. The 18-year-old fourth seed beat the tournament’s number seven Lukas Lacko in the final 6-3, 6-1 to capture his third Challenger title of the season after he had lifted the trophies in Burnie in February as well as in Savannah in April.
In Europe, the players met for two clay court events. Fourth seed Robin Haase claimed the title at the second edition of the €64,000 Open de Pays d’Aix, held in Aix-en-Provence, a city-commune in southern France about 30 km north of Marseille. The Dutch ousted Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final, winning 7-6, 6-2 to lift his tenth Challenger trophy. Tournament director Arnaud Clement was satisfied with the week: “It was a very intense week with high quality matches. The field was better than last year and we had a lot spectators attending the matches, which means more fun for the players to compete in front of packed stands,” the French stated.
Aljaz Bedene captured his first title since represting Great Britain at the seventh edition of the €42,500 Garden Open, one of two ATP Challenger taking place in Rome, the capital of Italy. World number 91 Bedene and therewith only player ranked inside the top 100, won the final 7-5, 6-2 against Adam Pavlasek. It was the 10th Challenger title for the 25-year-old, his second he claimed in Rome after 2013.
The South American clay court swing continued at the $50,000 Seguros Bolívar Open Cali, the capital of the Valle del Cauca department and the most populous city in Southwestern Colombia, with an estimated population of 2.3 million residents. Unseeded Fernando Romboli took his maiden ATP Challenger title, fighting back in the final to overcome Giovanni Lapentti 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The week closed on the hard courts of the $50,000 Karshi Challenger, held for the ninth time in the city of Qarshi in southern Uzbekistan. In an all-Russian-final top-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili emerged victorious after his opponent Evgeny Donskoy was forced to retire due to right ankle injury while Gabashvili was trailing 5-2 in the first set. The 29-year-old hoisted the title a second time in Karshi, having defeated Radu Albot in 2013.
Four more tournaments followed the week of 11 May. The eighth edition of the €85,000 BNP Parisbas Primrose Bordeaux took place on clay in the port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde Department in southwestern France. 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis lifted his maiden Challenger trophy, winning the final 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 against Thiemo de Bakker, who captured the doubles title teaming up with Robin Haase.
“It feels great to win my first title, especially after the circumstances with Rome. It’s great to get the win in Bordeaux because it is such a nice Challenger with many top players and many great past champions. I knew I had to make at least the quarters to make the cut for Wimbledon too, so I’m happy,” the Australian teenager told.
With Alexander Zverev another young gun claimed a Challenger title the same week. The 17-year-old German was successful on home soil, winning the second edition of the €42,500 Neckar Cup in Heilbronn, a city in northern Baden-Württemberg with about 123,000 inhabitants. In the final Zverev beat Guido Pella, who celebrated his 25th birthday, 6-1, 7-6.
“Last year, I was still the newcomer. Most of the players didn’t know me. Now, I have established myself a bit on the tour and I feel good,” Zverev told after claiming his second ATP Challenger title following the victory in Braunschweig last year. With this victory, the teenager cracked the top 100 for the first time.
“I do not really care about my ranking on Monday. I am just happy that I made it into the top 100, which gives me the chance to play the main draw in a lot of tournaments. Through these victories, I will probably be able to get into the main draw in Wimbledon, which is an important step in my career and a dream would come true.” Zverev advanced to the second round of the All England Championships, in which he lost to Denis Kudla.
Teymuraz Gabashvili won back to back titles in Uzbekistan by hoisting the trophy at the 19th edition of the $50,000 Samarkand Challenger, held on clay in one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia. The tournament’s top-seed downed Yuki Bhambri in the final, winning 6-3, 6-1.
“It’s a great feeling to win two titles on two different surfaces and to come back to the Top 80. I’m confident and with good expectations for Paris. But first I will play in Geneva. I hope I can have a good result there too,” Gabashvili told afterwards.
Meanwhile, third seed Hyeon Chung was stopped at the $50,000 Lecoq Seoul Open in his bid to become the first player to win 30 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2015. The 18-year-old saw his win streak end at 14, falling to Go Soeda 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final in his home capital of Seoul, the largest metropolis of South Korea with more than 25 million inhabitants. The 30-year-old Japanese celebrated his only title of the season and Chung should be able to gain another trophy in China.
In the month’s final two weeks, two more tournaments followed. On May 18 the second edition of the €42,500 Eskisehir Cup kicked off. The city is located in northwestern Turkey and is the capital of the Eskisehir Province. First seed Paolo Lorenzi won the final between the event’s two top-ranked players against Inigo Cervantes in two tie-breaks. The 33-year-old Italian gained the first of his four titles in 2015. The only one on hard court.
The week of 25 May the second edition of the €42,500 Internazionali di Tennis Citta’di Vicenza took place in the city, located in northeastern Italy in the Veneto region. After lifting the trophy in Ostrava in April, Inigo Cervantes clinched his second Challenger title of the season. In the final, the 25-year-old Spaniard defeated sixth seed John Millman, winning 6-4, 6-2.
Cervantes was obviously happy, also because of a special guest. “I played better than what I had thought before the match because I was very tired. I think that the confidence with this tournament was the key to win today and I am very happy for this. Concerning the result, today’s match was not so easy, Millman is a very tough player. At this level the difference is small and for this reason today was a very difficult match. I am very happy my father was here. He was a football player and he follows me 1-2 weeks a year.”