SAFIULLIN CLAIMS SECOND ATP CHALLENGER TITLE


Photograph: ATP Challenger

Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan


[1] Roman Safiullin def Denis Yevseyev (KAZ) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(2)


24-year-old Roman Safiullin has won his second ATP Challenger singles title and first in over two years on the hard courts of Nur Sultan.


His opponent in the final, local hope Denis Yevseyev, came out of the blocks firing to claim the opening set, in his first career Challenger decider.


The top seed regained the momentum in the second set, breaking at a crucial moment to force a decider.


With his home crowd riding every point, Yevseyev pushed Safiullin into a third set tiebreak, ultimately falling just short of a maiden Challenger title.


Safiullin’s first singles trophy since February 2020 will boost him to a career high ranking of 119.



Indianapolis, USA


Yibing Wu (CHN) def Aleksandar Kovacevic (USA) 6-7(10), 7-6(13), 6-3


China’s Yibing Wu has triumphed in one of the best ATP Challenger matches of the year, overcoming local favourite Aleksandar Kovacevic in the tightest of finals.


Kovacevic claimed a close first set, utilising his one-handed backhand to great effect and forcing Wu to come back from a set down.


The second managed to be even tighter, with Wu initially unable to serve out the set at 5-4 and forced to save six match points, including five in an epic tiebreaker.


With the help of his dominant forehand and a cramping opponent, Wu claimed the decider in more comfortable fashion – earning himself a fourth ATP Challenger singles title.


The former US Open Junior champion is amidst a career-best season, where he has now won three Challenger titles in just six weeks. The 22-year-old, who was ranked number 1738 in April, is now up to 174 – making him the highest ranked Chinese man on tour.


Trieste, Italy


Francesco Passaro (ITA) def [Q] Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 6-3, 6-3


In front of a strong home crowd, Italian Francesco Passaro has claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title.


The unseeded Passaro worked his way through to his fourth Challenger final of 2022, including a strong showing to take down top seed Nobert Gombos in the quarterfinals.


The 21-year-old rallied from a set down in Sunday’s final, edging out his opponent in a match filled with lengthy points on the Italian clay.


Passaro, who had previously fallen exclusively to top two seeds at his past five Challenger events, broke the deadlock this week and grunted his way to the biggest title of his career.


While Zhang will rise up 48 spots to world number 191, Passaro will make his ATP top 150 debut at 144.

Pozoblanco, Spain


[2] Constant Lestienne (FRA) def [7] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-0, 7-6(3)


30-year-old Frenchman Constant Lestienne has claimed his fifth career ATP Challenger title this week and his second of the season.


Despite having no local hope in Sunday’s final, the Spanish crowd in Pozoblanco packed out centre court for the all-French decider.


Barrere, who overcame Ugo Humbert in his semifinal, was initially unable to match the court craft and consistency of Lestienne, losing the first seven games of the encounter.


The seventh seed then rallied and gave himself a chance to serve for the second set but was unable to capitalise, as his opponent found another gear to claim the title.


On the back of a successful week, Lestienne has now risen to world number 105, nearing an elusive ATP top 100 debut.