Draper Returns To Winners’ Circle On ATP Challenger Tour
Jack Draper claimed his first title at any level since March 2022 on Sunday when he triumphed at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bergamo, Italy.
The 21-year-old rallied past former World No. 7 David Goffin 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 in the Trofeo Perrel – Faip final after fending off 14 of 19 break points faced to earn his fifth career ATP Challenger Tour crown.
“David came out playing incredibly well. I felt a bit sluggish after a long match yesterday. I had to really fight hard and change my energy to find my way back,” Draper said. “I’m really proud of the way I competed. My competitive spirit brought me back.
Draper, who hit a career-high No. 38 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in January, was poised to continue his rapid rise in 2023. But injuries soon struck the Briton and have been an unfortunate theme this season for last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist. Now with another trophy in his hands, Draper hopes to maintain his form heading into next season.
“I think this year was to stay healthy after my injury in May. Next year I really want to push to the top of the game, that’s my goal,” Draper said.
In other ATP Challenger Tour action, Kazakh’s Beibit Zhukayev earned his maiden title at that level when he won the Jonathan Fried Pro Challenger in Charlottesville, Virginia. The 23-year-old downed qualifier Aidan Mayo 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
After Zhukayev saved five match points in a dramatic first-round match against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the Kazakh was unbroken the remainder of the week.
Beibit Zhukayev wins his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Charlottesville, Virginia.” />
Beibit Zhukayev wins his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Charlottesville, Virginia. Credit: Al Hoover
“It was a special week for me. In the first match, I saved five match points. After that I felt like I have to fight for every point and that’s what I was doing all this week,” Zhukayev told commentator Mike Cation. “I’m very happy to win the title. It was a goal for me to win a Challenger title this year and I made it.”
Following his triumph in Charlottesville, Zhukayev climbed 52 spots to a career-high No. 195 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Alejandro Tabilo collected his third Challenger trophy of the year at the Challenger Ciudad de Guayaquil, where he overcame second seed Daniel Elahi Galan 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Tabilo, 26, also triumphed in Francavilla al Mare, Italy and Karlsruhe, Germany this season.
“I’m happy because it was a very hard week, many battles with very good players,” Tabilo said in Spanish. “I have known Galan for a long time, we’ve played several matches and I hope I can continue battling with him. I am very happy with the victory and I hope I can continue with this level.”
Alejandro Tabilo wins the Challenger 75 event in Guayaquil, Ecuador.” />
Alejandro Tabilo wins the Challenger 75 event in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Credit: Jose Alvarado
Antoine Bellier won his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the season on the orange carpet of Ismaning, Germany, where the 27-year-old escaped home hope Maximilian Marterer 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-6(6) in the final. Bellier advanced through qualifying and dropped just one set all week en route to his second title on the ATP Challenger Tour.
“I had no expectations and I started from qualies to being the winner. I’m really happy,” Bellier said. “I played a great level.”
Carpet Tennis? Welcome To The Ismaning Challenger
Taro Daniel claimed his first title since 2020 and eighth overall on the ATP Challenger Tour after defeating Marc Polmans 6-2, 6-4 in the final at the NSW Open in Sydney, Australia. Following his title run, the 30-year-old Daniel posted on Instagram sharing what it meant to him to win the event on the one-year anniversary of his mother’s passing.
“What a week. Grateful for all the continuous support I receive from my team and family even though physically I was alone this time, it’s all of us together,” Daniel wrote. “Special to do it on the one-year anniversary of the passing of my mom.”
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