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.
Most of the ATP Challenger events take place in Europe but the Tour arrived only in February at the “old continent”. The indoors hard court season kicked off with the €42,500 Aegon GB Pro-Series Glasgow. It was the tournament’s first edition taking place at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre the week of 2 February. It was also the return of an ATP tournament to Scotland for the first time in 13 years.
“Basically, we had a futures tournament on the calendar and we were going to host a €10,000 men’s and a €25,000 women’s event, but at the start of December we were approached by the LTA to say that the ATP were keen to have an additional Challenger event on the calendar and would Tennis Scotland be prepared to host it at Scotstoun,” told competition manager John Stevenson.
Niels Desein captured his maiden Challenger title, winning the final 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 against fellow Belgian Ruben Bemelmans.
The same week, the US-hard court swing got underway with the $100,000 RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas. It was the tournament’s 18th edition and local Tim Smyczek had led 6-2, 4-1 in the final against fellow countryman Rajeev Ram before Ram was forced to retire due to illness.
The players, who wanted to stay in Australia after the first Grand Slam of the year had the chance to compete at the $50,000 Mc Donald’s Burnie International in Tasmania. Only 18-year-old Hyeon Chung won his first of four Challenger titles in 2015. The Korean teenager defeated Australian Alex Bolt 6-2, 7-5.
In the week of 9 February another three tournaments took place. The Tour continued in Tasmania, the island state which is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, with the first edition of the $50,000 Launceston International. 2011 French Open junior champion Bjorn Fratangelo claimed his maiden Challenger title, winning the final 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 against Hyeon Chung.
“There were a few ups and downs and I think both of us got a bit tight in some moments, but overall the tennis was good, the crowd liked it and I had a lot of fun playing,” Fratangelo said. “So I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s huge for me. My short-term goal at the end of this trip was to reach top 200 and I exceeded all expectations. Now it’s time to really shoot for top 100 and I believe in myself I can do it and I really feel like I belong.” After winning the final, Fratangelo reached a new career high of 170 in the ATP rankings.
Damir Dzumhur clinched the title on the green clay of the inaugural $50,000 Milex Open taking place in Santo Domingo. It was the first ATP Challenger event to be held in the Dominican Republic. The Bosnian led 7-5, 3-0 when his opponent Renzo Olivo retired due to stomach pains.
Benoit Paire claimed his first of three ATP Challenger titles in 2015, winning the tenth edition of the €42,500 Trofeo Faip-Perrel in Bergamo. The 25-year-old Frenchman beat Alexander Nedovyesov 6-3, 7-6 in the final.
The indoor hard court swing continued in Europe the week of 16 February with the inaugural €85,000 Wroclaw Open. Farrukh Dustov captured his maiden Challenger title, winning the final 6-3, 6-4 against Mirza Basic to break into the top 100 for the first time afterwards.
“This is a special moment for me. I wasn’t practising so much when I was young. Then I decided to be more serious about tennis only two years ago and did more practice sessions. I will also be the first player for Uzbekistan who has become a top 100 player,” the man from Tashkent told proudly and added with a smile that Denis Istomin was born in Russia.
The Challenger Tour arrived in India for the $100,000 Delhi Open. In the final between two locals, Somdev Devvarman emerged victorious, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 against Yuki Bhambri. The 30-year-old retained his title and was understandably happy afterwards.
“Maybe this is the turning point for me. I am not playing my best tennis and it has only been an average season for me so far. My friend and idol Andy Roddick told me that players win when they play their best but when you manage to win when you are not playing your best, it tells a lot about the player,” a relieved Devvarman said after his victory.
Another outdoor hard court event took place in Mexico, when players met for the second edition of the $75,000 Morelos Open. 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos, who had already captured his first ATP World Tour crown by winning the Quito Open the week before, won his sixth ATP Challenger title. The veteran from the Dominican Republic ousted Damir Dzumuhr, winning the final 7-5, 6-4.
On 23 February, the final week of the month started with the second edition of the Emami Kolkata Open ATP Challenger Tour at the Bengal Tennis Association complex. Sixth favourite Radu Albot lifted his second Challenger trophy, winning the final 7-6, 6-1 against the tournament’s top seed James Duckworth.
The 19th edition of the $50,000 Shimadzu All Japan Indoor Tennis Championships took place in Kyoto, a city located in the central of the island Honshu. The tourament’s number seven Michal Przysiezny beat John Millman in the final, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It should remain the Pole’s only title in 2015.
The ATP Challenger Tour returned for the 22nd time to the traditional stop in Cherbourg, located at the northern end of the Cotentin peninsula northwestern part of France. Norbert Gombos claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title, winning the final of the €42,500 Challenger La Manche against sixth seed Benoit Paire 6-1, 7-6.