Navone, Svajda Earn Challenger Titles To Continue Career-Best Seasons

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2023

Navone, Svajda Earn Challenger Titles To Continue Career-Best Seasons

Kovacevic wins third Challenger title of 2023

Argentine Mariano Navone and American Zachary Svajda continued their standout seasons this past week on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 22-year-old Navone won his fourth Challenger title of the season while Svajda, 20, secured back-to-back titles in California.

Navone won on home soil at the Challenger de Buenos Aires, where he rallied past top seed Federico Coria 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Now at a career-high No. 146 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Navone joins Thiago Seyboth Wild atop the season leaderboard as the only players with four ATP Challenger Tour trophies.

“I feel very good. I’m very happy to win this title here. I won three matches in three sets so I’m very happy and tired,” said Navone. “I’m a guy who needs support and it’s fun to see me shouting, ‘Vamos!’ with the crowd and today was very special to win on Mother’s Day in Argentina. I enjoyed the tournament and the crowd. This is the most special Navone, Svajda Earn Challenger Titles To Continue Career-Best Seasons.”

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This year also marks the third straight season with an Argentine winning at least four ATP Challenger Tour titles (Pedro Cachin won four in 2022, Sebastian Baez earned six in 2021.)

“Total surprise,” Navone said. “The fourth is the most important for me because it’s the tournament I hoped [to win] all year. I prepared with great intensity for two weeks for this tournament.”

Navone’s countryman Francisco Comesana enjoyed a quarter-final run in Buenos Aires to become the first player to win 40 Challenger matches this year. The 23-year-old, who has captured two Challenger titles this season, is at a career-high No. 117.

Svajda is enjoying a career-best season, including two consecutive titles in his home state California. After winning the Tiburon Challenger last week, Svajda was crowned champion at the Taube – Grossman Pro Tennis Tournament, where he defeated 18-year-old Nishesh Basavareddy 6-4, 6-1 to earn his fourth career ATP Challenger Tour title.

“It’s so important to keep going. I feel like last year I would do well, have a good tournament and then the next couple weeks I would be tired or not fully there mentally,” Svajda told commentator Mike Cation. “I just feel more mature right now, stronger, and mentally better. Backing up [the title in Tiburon] means a lot to me.”

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At 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Jeddah, Svajda has a chance to make a late-season push to earn his maiden qualification into the Next Gen ATP Finals, which showcases the world’s best 21-and-under players. Svajda has won 16 of his past 17 Challenger-level matches and is just the second #NextGenATP player with three titles at that level in 2023, alongside Hamad Medjedovic.

This year marks the third straight season an American aged 20-and-under has won three Challenger titles. Ben Shelton did so last year and Jenson Brooksby conquered the feat in 2021. Svajda triumphed in Cary, North Carolina last month before winning in Tiburon and Fairfield the past two weeks.

“I knew my hard work was going to pay off somewhere and I didn’t know when,” said Svajda, who is at a career-high No. 139. “It feels nice and I want to keep it going. It feels awesome but I’m not satisfied with this. I’ll celebrate some but this is important to keep backing up weeks and keep getting on a good run.”

In Fairfield doubles action, Evan King and Reese Stalder claimed their fifth doubles crown of the season, joining Hendrik Jebens and Constantin Frantzen as the only teams with five Challenger titles in 2023. The Germans Jebens and Frantzen have won a season-leading six team titles.

Two former college stars also claimed ATP Challenger Tour titles Sunday. American Aleksandar Kovacevic, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 2021, did not drop a set all week en route to winning the Shenzhen Longhua Open, where he downed Portugal’s Nuno Borges 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the final.

<a href=Aleksandar Kovacevic wins the Challenger 100 event in Shenzhen, China.” />
Aleksandar Kovacevic wins the Challenger 100 event in Shenzhen, China. Credit: Shenzhen Longhua Open
Kovacevic captured his maiden Challenger crown in January in Cleveland, Ohio and the ensuing month returned to the winners’ circle in Waco, Texas. Following his triumph in China, Kovacevic climbed 34 spots to No. 112, just 11 spots shy of tying his career high, which he reached in April.

Former University of Kentucky standout Gabriel Diallo earned his second ATP Challenger Tour trophy and first of this season at the Peugeot Slovak Open. The 22-year-old defeated Belgian Joris De Loore 6-0, 7-5 to become the youngest Canadian to win two Challenger titles since his fellow Montreal native Felix Auger-Aliassime (2018).

“I’m pretty happy that I got the job done, it wasn’t easy,” said Diallo, who is at a career-high No. 130. “He had chances in the second set but I’m happy that I stayed calm to get my first title of the year. It’s an individual sport but we also have so many people in the background, so I’m really happy for my team as well.”

<a href=Gabriel Diallo wins the Challenger 125 event in Bratislava, Slovakia.” />
Gabriel Diallo wins the Challenger 125 event in Bratislava, Slovakia. Credit: Peugeot Slovak Open
A pivotal moment for Diallo came in the second round, when he survived top seed and former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem in a third-set tie-break to keep his title hopes alive. Diallo stayed steady to become the 15th different former collegiate player to win a Challenger title 2023, tying the single-season record previously set in 2022.

Frenchman Ugo Blanchet earned his maiden Challenger title in Malaga, Spain, where he advanced through qualifying and won seven matches across eight days to triumph. The 24-year-old did not drop a set all week and overcame Italian Mattia Bellucci 6-4, 6-4 in the Malaga Open final.

Players from France have combined for a record-breaking 25 ATP Challenger Tour trophies this year, with Blanchet becoming the 17th different champion from his country this season. Blanchet is at a career-high World No. 209.

<a href=Ugo Blanchet wins the Challenger 125 event in Malaga, Spain.” />
Ugo Blanchet wins the Challenger 125 event in Malaga, Spain. Credit: Julio Salcedo

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