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Fognini Saves 2 MPs, Downs Bautista Agut To Win Valencia Challenger

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2023

Fognini Saves 2 MPs, Downs Bautista Agut To Win Valencia Challenger

Tabilo, Watanuki also win titles

Fabio Fognini won his first title at any level since 2019 on Sunday when he triumphed at the ATP Challenger Tour 100 event in Valencia, Spain.

The Italian saved two championship points to down home favourite Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 7-6(8), 7-6(3) after three hours, 11 minutes in Sunday’s Copa Faulcombridge final. Fognini, who fended off a match point at 4-5 in the second set and another at 7/8 in the second-set tie-break, is the ninth ATP Challenger Tour champion to save at least one match point in a final this year.

Fognini and Bautista Agut, who were competing against each other for the 12th time, combined for the oldest Challenger final in 2023. At 36 years, six months, Fognini is the oldest Challenger champion this season.

A seven-time ATP Challenger Tour champion, Fognini’s victory in Spain marks his first title since his lone ATP Masters 1000 crown at the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

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In other Challenger action, Chilean Alejandro Tabilo collected his fourth trophy at that level this season by winning the Aberto Da Republica in Brasilia, Brazil. The 26-year-old downed Argentine Roman Andres Burruchaga 6-3, 7-6(6) in the final after winning 81 per cent of his first-serve points.

“I am so happy and speechless with how this weekend has been,” Tabilo wrote in Spanish on Instagram following his triumph. “So thankful for my team for all the work and support they have given me. This is just the beginning and 1701103828 we go stronger.”

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A post shared by Alejandro Tabilo (@tabilo97)

Tabilo is one of four South American players to win at least four Challenger titles in 2023, joining Mariano Navone (5), Facundo Diaz Acosta (4) and Thiago Seyboth Wild (4). Tabilo is the only player of that group with titles on both clay and hard.

Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki won his first Challenger title of the season on home soil at the Yokohama Keio Challenger, where he defeated countryman Yuta Shimizu 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final. The top seed Watanuki was a finalist in Yokohama last year, but he went one step further this week to become the fourth Japanese player to win the Challenger 75 event.

Watanuki and Shimizu are set to face off again on Tuesday in a first-round match at the Yokkaichi Challenger, where the 25-year-old is the defending champion. Watanuki aims at building upon his momentum to finish the season, much like he did last year by earning back-to-back titles and winning 14 of his final 15 matches.

Watanuki, who is coached by his older brother Keisuke, made his Top 100 debut in July shortly after reaching the second round of Wimbledon.

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#NextGenATP Qualifiers Use ATP Challenger Tour As Springboard

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2023

#NextGenATP Qualifiers Use ATP Challenger Tour As Springboard

Van Assche survived the longest Challenger final in March

All eight of the competitors at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM were champions on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2023, with Hamad Medjedovic’s trio of titles leading the 21-and-under players. reviews some of the key moments from each qualifier’s rise through the ATP Challenger Tour this year.

Arthur Fils

The Frenchman kicked off his season in the best way possible, winning nine of his first 10 matches, including an opening week title run at the Oeiras Challenger. Fils, 19, quickly ascended up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and is currently at a career-high World No. 36. The teenager, who won his maiden tour-level title in Lyon, collected an 11-4 Challenger-match record this year.

Fils joined an exclusive list of French Challenger champions aged 18 and under: Richard Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean, Gael Monfils, Fabrice Santoro, Corentin Moutet, and Luca Van Assche.

Luca Van Assche
A memorable moment for Van Assche came at the Pau Challenger in March, when he saved two championship points against countryman Ugo Humbert to win the longest Challenger final in history (three hours, 56 minutes). In his next event just a few weeks later, Van Assche returned to the winners’ circle, claiming his third career ATP Challenger crown in Sanremo, where he secured his Top 100 breakthrough.

Dominic Stricker

The Swiss lefty won the Rovereto and Prague Challengers in the first half of the year and now enters the season finale in Jeddah with a 19-12 Challenger-match season record. In September, the 21-year-old made his Top 100 debut following a fourth-round appearance at the US Open, where he stunned seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set, second-round thriller. Stricker is the only Swiss player to win five Challenger titles before his 21st birthday.

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Alex Michelsen

The 19-year-old American started the year at World No. 600 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but has since risen to become the youngest player in the Top 100. Michelsen earned his maiden ATP Challenger Tour triumph in Chicago in July, a week before he was a finalist at the ATP 250 event in Newport. Michelsen enters the Next Gen ATP Finals having won nine of his past 10 matches, including a title run in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Flavio Cobolli

The Italian is one of seven players to win at least 40 Challenger-level matches in 2023. Cobolli, who cracked the Top 100 in October, earned his second career ATP Challenger Tour title in Lisbon and reached the final in Olbia two weeks later. The 21-year-old is one of four #NextGenATP Italians to win a Challenger title this year, alongside Luca Nardi, Matteo Gigante and Luciano Darderi.

Hamad Medjedovic

The 20-year-old is the youngest player to win three ATP Challenger Tour titles this season, with triumphs in Szekesfehervar, Mauthausen and Mallorca. The Serbian, who advanced through qualifying at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, was a semi-finalist at the ATP 250 events in Gstaad and Astana. Coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, Medjedovic has tallied a 23-12 Challenger-match record this year.

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Scouting Report: Fils, Van Assche Lead 21-&-Under Jeddah Field

Luca Nardi

At a career-high World No. 115, Nardi has added two Challenger titles to his collection this season. The Italian won the Porto Challenger in August on the same day he was celebrating his 20th birthday. Nardi captured his fourth career Challenger title earlier this month, when he triumphed in Matsuyama, Japan.

Abdullah Shelbayh

The Jordanian made ATP Challenger Tour history in October when he triumphed in Charleston, South Carolina to become the youngest player from an Arab country to win a title at that level. The 20-year-old, who graduated from the Rafa Nadal Academy in 2021, also was a finalist at the Manama Challenger in February. Shelbayh enters the Next Gen ATP Finals at a career-high World No. 185.

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Day 1 Preview: Fils Opens Next Gen ATP Finals Play In Jeddah

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2023

Day 1 Preview: Fils Opens Next Gen ATP Finals Play In Jeddah

Van Assche meets Shelbayh

The first ATP-sanctioned event ever to be held in Saudi Arabia commences on Tuesday, when all eight players will be in action at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM.

Top seed Arthur Fils will face Italian Luca Nardi in the first Green Group match at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. Frenchman Fils is No. 36 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, having won his first tour-level title in Lyon earlier this year. Nardi, who was an alternate at the 21-and-under event in 2022, won an ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Japan earlier this month.

Dominic Stricker and Flavio Cobolli will follow Fils and Nardi onto court in the afternoon session. The 21-year-old Swiss Stricker reached the semi-finals on debut at the tournament last year, while 21-year-old Italian Cobolli is one of seven debutants.

In the evening session, Luca Van Assche plays Jordanian star Abdullah Shelbayh, with American Alex Michelsen facing Hamad Medjedoivc in Red Group. Earlier this year, second-seeded Frenchman Van Assche reached the quarter-finals in Hamburg, while Shelbayh became the first Arab man to win an ATP Challenger Tour title.

Newport finalist Michelsen arrives in Jeddah having won nine of his past 10 matches. Serbian Medjedovic won three Challenger Tour crowns this year and is coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki.

CENTRE COURT start 3:00 pm
[1] A. Fils (FRA) vs [7] L. Nardi (ITA)

Not Before 4:00 pm
[3] D. Stricker (SUI) vs [5] F. Cobolli (ITA)

Not Before 8:00 pm
[2] L. Van Assche (FRA) vs [8] [WC] A. Shelbayh (JOR)
[4] A. Michelsen (USA) vs [6] H. Medjedovic (SRB)

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