A LOOK BACK
Morelos Open Credito Real (Morelos, Mexico): The same mantra goes for every player. Have a more professional attitude on the court, focus on what you can control and the results will likely follow. In 2019, Jurij Rodionov admitted that he strugged in that department. As the calendar flipped to 2020, those issues are long gone.
Armed with a more mature approach, the #NextGenATP Austrian is hitting his stride behind two titles in three weeks. Rodionov lifted the trophy in Morelos on Sunday, rallying from a set down in both the semis and final to take the title. He defeated Argentina’s Juan Pablo Ficovich 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 for the championship.
Rodionov entered the month of February outside the Top 350 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. But thanks to titles on the indoor hard courts of Dallas and outdoor hard courts of Morelos, he will vault to a career-high No. 172 on Monday.
The 20-year-old is the first player to win multiple titles in 2020, boasting a 12-1 mark since the start of February. He now owns three crowns in total, having lifted his maiden trophy in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2018.
Challenger Banque Nationale de Drummondville (Drummondville, Canada): Sunday’s final in Drummondville was a meeting of former college standouts, as UCLA’s Maxime Cressy met Texas A&M’s Arthur Rinderknech for the title. What started with an extravagant pre-match light show and concert was capped by a Cressy triumph after two hours and six minutes.
The American became the last man standing after a marathon 6-7(4) 6-4, 6-4 win. He did not drop serve all week, riding his dominant delivery to victory. Cressy, who left UCLA to return to pro tennis in 2020, claimed his second Challenger crown. He previously prevailed in Cleveland a year ago.
“The first thing that went through my mind was that I didn’t get broken this week,” said Cressy. “That’s pretty cool and it never happened in my life. I’m super happy to win here. I battled through every single day, physically, mentally and emotionally. It was a rollercoaster this week. I’m just happy I fought through all of it.”
Cressy rises 61 spots to No. 191 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Koblenz Open (Koblenz, Germany): The future of Czech tennis has arrived. In September, Jonas Forejtek captured the US Open boys’ title, and on Sunday, countryman Tomas Machac triumphed for the first time on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Beroun native prevailed in Koblenz, defeating Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in one hour and 56 minutes.
Machac is the first teenage winner on the Challenger circuit this year and joins Rodionov as the only #NextGenATP champions (born 1999 or later). It also marks the first time a Czech teen has lifted a trophy since Jiri Vesely in 2013.
“I knew that it will be tough today, as our previous two matches [both won by Van De Zandschulp] were also very close,” Machac told Florian Heer of Tennis-TourTalk.com. “I was so nervous and I am really tired right now. It was really great to see that a lot of fans came to watch this match. It was special for me today and I am very happy.
“I will next get back to Prague to see my parents before heading for Trento, Italy, to compete in an ITF tournament. Then I will enjoy one week off, having some practice and rest.”
Machac was making just the ninth Challenger appearance of his young career, but the Czech was hitting top gear from first ball. He did not drop a set in reaching the final. Having entered the week just inside the Top 350 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, he is projected to soar nearly 100 spots to a career-high No. 251.
Trofeo Perrel – Faip (Bergamo, Italy): Government suspension of all sporting events in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, due to the coronavirus, forced the cancellation of the Bergamo final. Illya Marchenko and Enzo Couacaud split honours, with both receiving finalist points and prize money for the week.
Earlier in the week, 16-year-old Leo Borg, son of former World No. 1 and tennis legend Bjorn Borg, made his professional debut. He fell to Chun-hsin Tseng in straight sets.
A LOOK AHEAD
Last year, Jeremy Chardy launched a Challenger tournament in his hometown of Pau, France. Now, the Terega Open Pau-Pyrennes is back for a second edition. Jiri Vesely, Norbert Gombos and Sumit Nagal lead the field.
In 2018, Ivo Karlovic became the oldest champion in Challenger history, triumphing in Calgary, Canada. Seeded third, Karlovic is back as the tournament welcomes a second edition. Home hope Vasek Pospisil leads the pack.
And in Columbus, 10th seed Peter Polansky looks to retain his trophy. He is joined by leading men Christopher O’Connell, Marc Polmans and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.