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.
Five tournaments took place the week of June 1, and with the €106,500 Uni Credit Czech Open one of the series’ highest category. The event is held in Prostejov, a city in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic.
The venue at the TK Prosetjov is one of the most attractive on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Centre Court with a capacity of 1,075 seats including retractable roof and lighting ensures excellent playing conditions at any event. It also features a press centre and Sky Boxes. Local hero and second seed Jiri Vesely defended his title when he defeated Laslo Djere in the final, winning 6-4, 6-2.
“The match might have seemed easy but it wasn’t at all. I knew Djere would be a bit more nervous, but his defence was really great. He moved well and covered the court perfectly. What was decisive was that I could rely on my service which also helped me to save his break points. I was more active but yet still quite nervous. Believe it or not I’m glad the match is over. I kept thinking I should defend the last year’s title. But the more I was thinking about it, the more difficult and complicated it seemed to be. I’m really very happy to have won the tournament. It’s always great to succeed at home before the local crowd and friends,“ Vesely told after the match.
The 22nd edition closed with the awards ceremony. “It was a week of great tennis. As the tournament’s titular partner, we are really satisfied and I would like to thank to all who made it a success.“ said Jiří Kunert, the general manager of UniCredit Bank, on Centre Court.
Another two tournaments were held on Europe’s clay. The €42,500 Franken Challenge is one of the oldest on the ATP Challenger Tour, as the series returned to the Northern Bavarian city of Fürth, located next to Nuremberg for the 28th time.
Taro Daniel captured his second title of the season, winning the final 6-3, 6-0 over Albert Montanes.
“He started very well but when I broke back I managed to push him around the court, which was really good and I think he got a bit tired in the end in the second set, which helped a lot,” Daniel was satisfied with his performance and added that he would like to crack the top 100. A mission, which should be accomplished by the end of year, currently ranked on 96th position.
The week’s last clay court event is the second edition of the €42,500 XIII Venice Challenger Save Cup in Mestre, the centre and with almost 90,000 citizens most populated urban area of the mainland Venice, northern Italy. Fourth seed Maximo González defeated unseeded Jozef Kovalik, winning the final 6-1, 6-3.
Meanwhile in Asia, hard court players met for the $50,000 Gimcheon ATP Challenger, held in the Korea’s North Gyeongsan Province. Eighth seed Alexander Sarkissian emerged victorious from an-all-US-American-final, winning 7-6, 6-4 against Connor Smith. It was the first Challenger title for the 25-year-old from Glendale.
Four weeks ahead of the All England Championships the grass court season on the ATP Challenger Tour kicked off with the inaugural €42,500 Aegon Manchester Trophy, held in Great Britain’s second most populous area. Second seed Sam Groth clinched his second title of the season after lifting the trophy in Taipei in April, winning the final 7-5, 6-1 over fellow Australian Luke Saville.
The Northern Lawn Tennis Club in Manchester is not quite Queen’s Club, which hosts the traditional Wimbledon lead-up event, but the second-tier tournament has a rich history with the likes of Fred Perry, Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Maureen Connoly, Billie-Jean King, Margaret Smith Court, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg and Pat Rafter among the greats to have graced its courts.
“It’s pretty amazing to have my name alongside names like Sampras and McEnroe on the trophy,” Groth said. “Any time you win a tournament it’s a great feeling and it’s a great way for me to start my grasscourt campaign.” The victory lifted Groth to a new career high 66th position.
The tournament with the highest prize money in the week of 8 June took place on European soil with the €106,500 Città di Caltanissetta, held in a city located in the western interior of Sicily, Italy. Only 19-year-old Swede Elias Ymer clinched his maiden title on the Challenger Tour, winning the final 6-3, 6-2 against seventh seed Bjorn Fratangelo.
“Winning here is really exciting,” told Ymer afterwards. “The crowd was fantastic. I came to Sicily without my coach Galo Blanco and my family. Yesterday, I had dinner with Bjorn. We are very good friends and I congratulated him for the great tournament he played here. My focus is now on the next tournaments. My goal is to climb up the rankings as high as possible, cracking the top 100,” the teenager explained. He finished the year on 136th position.
Daniel Munoz de la Nava took his second title of the season, winning the inaugural $50,000 Hoff Open, held on clay in Russia’s capital Moscow. The 33-year-old Spaniard, who finished the season on a career high 75th position, cruised past Radu Albot 6-0, 6-1 in the final.
Rest of the clay court players met at the €42,500 Sparta Prague Open, held at TK Sparta Praha, in the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Second seed Norbert Gombos won a marathon final 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 over Albert Montanes after three hours and 17 minutes.
“It was really tight. I had my chances to close the match out in the ninth game of the third set, but I failed to do so. But I am glad that I played very well without mistakes in the final tie-break,” a happy winner told afterwards. “I felt a bit tired, already in the second set, but I overcame it because I knew that it is final.”
It was the second defeat in a final within two weeks for the 34-year-old Spaniard, after losing in Fürth the week before. Gombos claimed his second trophy of the season, following his Challenger triumph indoors in Cherbourg in February.
The grass court season also continued with the 12th edition of the €42,500 Aegon Surbiton Trophy, held in suburban area of south-west London within the Borough of Kingston upon Thames. In the tournament’s climax Matthew Ebden fought back from being 2-5 down in the final set to overcme Denis Kudla, winning 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.
“I was really lucky, my opponent played well all match but I just hung in there. It could’ve gone any way but I played some good points.” Ebden added: “Thank you to the crowds because you’ve been amazing and to have a full stadium is superb. It’s great to have Surbiton back as part of The Aegon Trophy. There’s nothing like playing grass court tennis in the UK.”
The ATP Challenger Tour stayed in the United Kingdom for the final grass court event of the season starting the week of 15 June. The first edition of the €42,500 Aegon Ilkley Trophy took place in the spa town of Ilkley, located in Northern England and again the two finalists of last week’s event in Surbiton went head to head on the tournament’s last day. This time, however, with the better ending for Denis Kudla. The 22-year-old US-American captured his first title of the season through a 6-3 6-4 victory over Matthew Ebden.
The winner was understandably happy afterwards: “It’s great to be back, this is my favorite place to play in the UK, if not the world. If Ilkley can keep on getting bigger improvements that would be great as I keep winning here, so if you could arrange a Grand Slam that would be good.”
The clay court season also continued in Europe with the inaugural €42,500 Poprad-Tatry ATP Challenger, held in Poprad a city in northern Slovakia at the foot of the High Tatra Mountains. Adam Pavlasek captured his first ATP Challenger title, winning the final 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 against Hans Podlipnik-Castillo.
“Thank you for your support. Podlipnik-Castillo played really well, but I am glad that I won this tournament,” Pavlasek stated afterwards.
In Italy players met for the inaugural €42,500 Blu-Express.com Tennis Cup, held in Perugia, the capital city of the region of Umbria, located in the country’s centre. Top-seed Pablo Carreno-Busta celebrated his tenth Challenger title, winning the final 6-2, 6-2 against Matteo Viola.
The same day, Teymuraz Gabashvili also claimed his 10th Challenger title, winning the 13th edition of the $50,000 Fergana Challenger, played on hard courts in Uzbekistan. The top-seeded Russian benefited from the retirement of his opponent and fellow countryman Alexander Kudryavtsev after only 26 minutes at 6-2, 1-0 due to right hip injury.
The week closed on the clay at the €35,000 Internationaux de Tennis de Blois, held for the third time in the capital Loir-et-Cher department in central France. Unseeded Frenchman Mathias Bourgue won the final 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 versus the tournament’s number three Daniel Munoz de la Nava. It was the first Challenger title for the 21-year-old from Avignon.
On 22 June with the tenth edition of the €42,500 Aspira Cup only one tournament started this week. The event took place in Milan, the second most populous city in Italy counting about 1.3 million residents. Second seed Federico Delbonis beat Rogério Dutra Silva in an Argentine-Brazilian-final, winning 6-1, 7-6 to capture his sixth ATP Challenger career title without dropping a set.
It was amazing. I want to thank my team,” a happy winner told afterwards. “Tonight I will try to recover and tomorrow in London I will just try to enjoy the match. I have no pressure.” Delbonis had to play in Wimbledon the next day, where he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.
The final two tournaments of the month took play on Europe’s clay. Inigo Cervantes won the sixth edition of the Marburg Open, taking place in a university town in Germany’s federal state of Hessen. The 25-year-old Spaniard already clinched his third Challenger title of the season, winning the final 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 against Nils Langer.
Andrej Martin lifted the trophy at the second edition of the €42,500 Citta’di Padova Challenger, held in the Italian city of Padua located in the comune Veneto. The Slovakian rallied back after losing the opening set 0-6 to win the following two frames 6-4, 7-6 against Albert Montanes. The Spanish veteran lost his third ATP Challenger final in a row.
“It has been such a long time that I was able to celebrated a title. This was a magical week for me,” Martin said afterwards.