A LOOK BACK
Shenzhen Longhua Open (Shenzhen, China): This week, the ATP Challenger Tour descended on the affluent Mission Hills Country Club. Home to 20 hard courts, as well as the largest golf facility in the world, with 12 courses, the venue is a sprawling sports complex.

It is only fitting that the prestigious club would host a historic moment for tennis in China. On Sunday, Zhang Zhizhen claimed the first all-Chinese final in Challenger history, defeating countryman Li Zhe 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in front of a packed crowd at Mission Hills.

It has been quite the impressive four-year stretch for Chinese tennis, with Wu Di becoming its first champion in 2016, followed by its first teenage winner in 2017, Wu Yibing. And in 2018, Zhang Ze became the first to win multiple titles. Now, Zhang Zhizhen joins his countrymen in securing a slice of history.

“I’m really happy,” said Zhang. “I didn’t think I would get it this week, so it’s very nice for me. It’s never easy to play him and he played really good in second set. Barely made any unforced errors in return games. I managed to get the momentum back in the third set and adjust my mindset in the right place.

“I am very happy with this win and it seems like I always play well in Shenzhen. This city has become my special place. This title also helps me reach my goal for this season (Top 150). So lots of pressure released from my shoulder now. It is never easy to win any Challenger title.”

You May Also Like:

Zhang & Wu: The Chinese ‘Brothers’ Making Noise In Zhuhai

It was a second title for the Shanghai native nicknamed ‘ZZZ’, having prevailed in Jinan earlier this year. He rises to a career-high No. 141 in the ATP Rankings, sitting one spot off China’s highest-ever ranking, earned by Wu Di three years ago.

The 23-year-old continues to capture the tennis headlines in his homeland, steadily building on a breakthrough quarter-final run at the former ATP Tour stop in Shenzhen in 2017. Just last month he secured two more tour-level victories in Zhuhai and Beijing, including an upset of World No. 34 Kyle Edmund at the China Open.

Li, meanwhile, was competing in his second Challenger final and first since 2017, when he finished runner-up in Bangkok. He will also rise to a career-high in the ATP Rankings, cracking the Top 200 at No. 194.

Chinese Challenger Champions

Player No. of Titles
Tournaments Won
Zhang Zhizhen
2 Jinan 2019, Shenzhen 2019
Zhang Ze 2 San Francisco 2017, Chengdu 2018
Wu Di 1 Maui 2016
Wu Yibing 1 Shanghai 2017

City of Playford Tennis International (Playford, Australia): One year ago, Jordan Thompson took the ATP Challenger Tour by storm in the final weeks of the season, lifting a pair of trophies on home soil and finishing with a tour-leading 52 match wins. This year, it’s his countryman’s turn.

James Duckworth claimed a tour-leading 44th match victory on Sunday, streaking to the title on home soil in Playford. He did not drop a set all week in securing his third trophy of the year, capped by a 7-6(2), 6-4 triumph over Yasutaka Uchiyama. Also the champion in Bangkok and Baotou, the Aussie rises 20 spots to No. 110 in the ATP Rankings. Like Thompson did in 2018, he is hoping to conclude his campaign inside the Top 100. Duckworth enters Kobe, Japan, next week as the fourth seed.

Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA): Later on Sunday, it will be the first all-Canadian final outside of Canada in 20 years. Brayden Schnur battles Vasek Pospisil for the title in Charlottesville.

Challenger Eckental (Eckental, Germany): In Eckental, Steve Darcis plays his final match on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Belgian veteran, who announced he will retire from pro tennis in January, is a two-time ATP Tour champion and 10-time winner on the Challenger circuit. He will face Jiri Vesely for the title later on Sunday.

Challenger Ciudad de Guayaquil (Guayaquil, Ecuador): In South America, top seed Hugo Dellien carries a 5-2 record in Challenger finals to the Guayaquil championship. He faces 19-year-old Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, who is competing in his first final.

A LOOK AHEAD
Four tournaments on four continents highlight this week’s slate. The Slovak Open in Bratislava welcomes a loaded field for the tournament’s 20th edition. Seven players are inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, including top seed Mikhail Kukushkin.

On the indoor hard courts of Kobe, Japan, defending champion Tatsuma Ito returns and is joined by fellow seeded countrymen Yasutaka Uchiyama, Yuichi Sugita, Go Soeda and Hiroki Moriya. James Duckworth and Zhang Zhizhen look to go back-to-back after lifting trophies this week.

In Knoxville, a red-hot Tommy Paul leads the field, with Brayden Schnur and Bradley Klahn. And on the clay of Montevideo, home hope Pablo Cuevas targets a fourth tournament title.

Β 



Source link

Leave a Reply