Shelbayh Makes ATP Challenger Tour History

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2023

Shelbayh Makes ATP Challenger Tour History

Machac downs Draper to win in France

Abdullah Shelbayh completed a historic run Sunday, when he became the first player from Jordan to win an ATP Challenger Tour title.

The 19-year-old triumphed at the LTP Challenger in Charleston, South Carolina, where he defeated American wild card Oliver Crawford 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 in the final. Shelbayh, who is one of four Challenger champions this week, is the youngest player from an Arab country to win a title at that level.

“It’s something special for me to represent Jordan at such tournaments at a high level. Being able to win such a great event is such a big title for me, the biggest of my career so far,” Shelbayh told commentator Mike Cation.

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Shelbayh made a breakthrough this February when he made the Manama Challenger final before falling to Thanasi Kokkinakis. The following week, the lefty made his ATP Tour debut in Doha. A 2021 graduate of the Rafa Nadal Academy, Shelbayh hopes to build upon his momentum after capturing his maiden Challenger title.

“I think the main part is physical strength. I feel like my body hasn’t grown fully. As I keep working in the gym with my fitness coach and with time, I think that will help me a lot to improve the skills that I have,” said Shelbayh.

The Charleston Challenger final was a duel between two former University of Florida stars. Crawford, who was competing in his first Challenger final, played college tennis at the University of Florida before turning pro in 2020. Shelbayh played one season for the Gators before turning pro in 2022.

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In other Challenger action, Czech Tomas Machac ousted four of the top eight seeds en route to the Co’met Orleans Open title. The 22-year-old overcame eighth seed Jack Draper 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the final to lift his fifth Challenger title and first of this season.

“I’m super happy that I showed myself that I can be a great player and beat great players,” Machac said. “[In the final], the first set was my best tennis, second set was okay, and the third set was amazing from my head, energy, and everything. I was just fighting and trying to give him my game.”

<a href=Tomas Machac wins the Challenger 125 event in Orleans, France.” />
Tomas Machac wins the Challenger 125 event in Orleans, France. Credit: Co’met Orleans Open
Machac, who is at a career-high No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, ended his three-match skid in Challenger finals while ending Draper’s perfect 4-0 record in Challenger finals.

“I was in the zone and just focussing on myself,” Machac said. “I played the last two games unbelievably physically and mentally.”

Germans Constantin Frantzen and Hendrik Jebens collected their season-leading sixth Challenger team title in Orleans, where they survived Henry Patten and John-Patrick Smith 7-6(5), 7-6(12) in the final.

Oriol Roca Batalla was crowned champion at the Braga Open in Portugal, where he rallied past Croatian Duje Ajdukovic 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Roca Batalla, 30, is the second-oldest player this year to win his maiden Challenger title, only behind the 31-year-old Arthur Weber, who won in Zhuhai.

<a href=Oriol Roca Batalla wins the Challenger 75 event in Braga, Portugal.” />
Oriol Roca Batalla wins the Challenger 75 event in Braga, Portugal. Credit: FPT/Sara Falcao
Competing in his 96th Challenger main draw, the Spaniard Roca Batalla won seven matches in eight days as he went from qualifying to the winners’ circle.

Thiago Agustin Tirante won his second Challenger title of the season at the Directv Open Bogota. In the final, the 22-year-old Argentine, who also won in Morelos, Mexico in April, was given a walkover by Brazil’s Gustavo Heide, who was dealing with a stomach issue.

<a href=Thiago Agustin Tirante wins the Challenger 125 event in Bogota.” />
Thiago Agustin Tirante wins the Challenger 125 event in Bogota. Credit: Directv Open Bogota

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