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17-YEAR-OLD SHANG LIFTS FIRST ATP CHALLENGER TITLE



Lexington, USA


Juncheng Shang (CHN) def [2] Emilio Gomez (ECU) 6-4, 6-4


17-year-old Juncheng Shang claimed his maiden ATP Challenger singles title and became the youngest Chinese man to win a Challenger title in history.


Shang is also the first 2005-born man to claim a title at this level, putting himself forward as one of the best teenage prospects on tour.


Initially entering Lexington unseeded, Shang overcame fifth seed Mikhail Kukushkin in the round of 16, before enduring a tough quarterfinal battle against top seed Roman Safiullin – ultimately triumphing 7-5 in a deciding set.


In Sunday’s final, Shang took down the second seed Emilio Gomez, as the Chinese leftie managed to dictate play off his forehand wing.


Tennis fans will become familiar with Shang’s style of play over the next decade as he continues to rise up the ranks in men’s tennis.


But for those who haven’t seen his game, the 183cm youngster is strong from the baseline and can pounce off both his forehand and backhand side, while he will need to develop a more powerful serve to compete at the top level.


For the moment, Shang will rise to a career-high ranking of 241 – and is already the youngest man inside the ATP top 500.


Liberec, Czech Republic – Svijany Open


[1] Jiri Lehecka (CZE) def Nicolas Alvarez Varona (ESP) 6-4, 6-4


After a breakout run to an ATP semi-final in February this year, 20-year-old Jiri Lehecka has claimed his third ATP Challenger singles title and first of the season.


Opting to play locally in the Czech Republic as opposed to ATP events in America, the world number 65 entered the draw as the top seed and favourite.


Having failed to claim a Challenger title despite contesting eight events this year, Lehecka finally capitalised this week, in front of a vocal home crowd.


The Czech controlled Sunday’s final from the outset, taking the opening set and going up a break in the second.


Alvarez Varona managed to level the match at 4-4, before Lehecka’s class and ability to stretch the court helped him finish off the match.


Lehecka’s successful week will boost his ATP ranking up to a career-high number 59, as he begins his US Open preparation.


Cordenos, Italy


Zhizhen Zhang (CHN) def Andrea Vavassori (ITA) 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3


Making it a very successful week for Chinese men, 25-year-old Zhizhen Zhang won his third ATP Challenger title and first since 2019.


Competing against Italian Andrea Vavassori in front of his large home crowd, Zhang had to come from a set down to claim the title.


Utilising his ability to get to the net and finish off points, Zhang rallied late into the Cordenos night – in a match that took over four hours from start to finish, due to a halt in play after the opening set.


For Vavassori, he remains without a professional singles title at any level, but a second straight Challenger final will earn him a top 200 debut.


Additionally, Zhang will rise up 36 ranking places on the back of his title, placing him at world number 161.


Aussie Results:


Andrew Harris, alongside partner Enzo Couacaud, reached the semi-finals in Lexington, including a strong win over the third seeds in a tight quarterfinal battle.


Harris will now rise inside the ATP doubles top 200 for the first time – up to a career-high number 194.


At ITF level, Tristan Schoolkate and Moerani Bouzige were the most successful Aussies, reaching singles semi-finals in Nottingham and Malaysia respectively.


The 21-year-old has now reached the final four at six ITF events this year and continues his rise toward the ATP top 400.


Meanwhile, Aussies Alexandra Bozovic, Stefan Vujic, and Cihan Akay all reached ITF doubles semi-finals but were unable to progress to deciders.


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