The final day of action at the Bendigo International signalled the return to winning form for two players looking to turn their form around in 2022.
American Ernesto Escobedo and Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure both claimed their first titles of 2022 and placed their names firmly in contention for Australian Open qualifying in the next week.
Ernesto Escobedo has claimed his fourth singles challenger title in Bendigo after a gruelling two and a half hour victory over Frenchman Enzo Couacaud in the final of the Bendigo International.
Eighth seed Escobedo was able to wrestle the match back after Couacaud stunned the American to take the first set in a fiercely fought contest between the pair. World #164 Escobedo would go on to grind out the next two sets in his favour to hand him the Bendigo International title. Escobedo was solid across the match, working in overdrive to outplay his French opponent.
The American triumphed 5-7 6-3 7-5 to earn his fourth singles title at Challenger level. This victory affirms Escobedo’s return to the form that saw him reach the heights of #67 in the world in 2017. With this victory, he rises 23 places to sit at 141 in the rankings.
After struggling to find his game and falling in the rankings for the past few years, Escobedo seems to be finding the form that had him considered as one of the best young prospects to become the next generation of tennis stars in 2017.
This victory is Escobedo’s first since his title in Granby, Canada in 2019 where on the way to the title he defeated his Bendigo International 2022 opponent Enzo Couacaud in the quarterfinal in straight sets.
Escobedo’s sights now turn to the qualifying draw for the Australian Open, a tournament where he has once found his best form. Having reached the second round in 2017, Escobedo will be looking to turn his fortunes around after failing to qualify for the years following his second-round berth. The American will take great confidence headed into qualifying following his run in Bendigo which featured some tough matches against plenty of tough competitors.
Ysaline Bonaventure, the world #235 from Belgium arrived in Bendigo unseeded but leaves as a champion after a complete demolition of Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva in the final of the Bendigo International.
Bonaventure showed few signs of nerves in defeating the young Andorran qualifier Jimenez Kasintseva, who sent a strong warning to her Belgian opponent in the semi-finals overcoming sixth seed Coco Vandeweghe in a gruelling 2-hour match.
Proving to be a level above, Bonaventure triumphed in impressive fashion 6-3 6-1. The Bendigo International victory heralds not only Bonaventure’s first singles title in 2022 but also her first title in almost two years, last claiming victory in 2020. It is also a return to form for the 29-year-old who after a run of consecutive years in the world top 150, fell to an eight-year low in the rankings, at 235.
With this win, Bonaventure is projected to rise to #177 in the world, reentering the top 200 and will be looking to continue her rise in the rankings to once again claim her place in the top 150.
Bonaventure will now turn her attention to the upcoming Australian Open qualifying rounds, where she hopes to qualify to the main draw for the third time in her twelve-year career.
Twice before Bonaventure has made it through the Australian Open qualifying, both in 2021 and 2019 where she made her main draw grand slam debut, she will no doubt be looking to improve upon her best result of a first-round exit this year.
Bonaventure’s confidence will only be bolstered by this emphatic victory in Bendigo and she will look to replicate her form from this week for the rest of her season.