Roundup of this week's Challenger finals: Mannarino, Tipsarevic and Gojowczyk are the first champions of the season- View: 2900 by Jovica Ilic
Tennis - Mannarino managed to successfully defend his Noumea title won 12 months ago
Noumea, New Caledonia, $75,000+H (Outdoor Hard) :
The distant island of Noumea has to honor to give us the first Challenger champion of the season and just like in 2016 that was Adrian Mannarino. World number 60 choose this event instead of some ATP 250 events and he did a good job, with 100 ATP points already in his pocket, winning all 5 matches in straight sets. This was 19th Challenger final for Adrian and his 12th title, the first since that one here 12 months ago. In the title match, Adrian toppled Serb Nikola Milojevic 6-3 7-5, in an hour and 32 minutes. 21-year-old Milojevic, a former best junior in the world, competed in his first Challenger final and that will give him a career-high ranking of 201st yet again tomorrow. Despite losing serve twice, Mannarino served much better than his young rival, keeping the second serve safe and having the edge in the rallies.
Milojevic struggled to keep the pace on his second serve and he dropped 50% of the points in his games, getting broken 4 times from 8 chances Mannarino had. The match started with back-to-back breaks in games 2 and 3, but after that, Mannarino found the rhythm in his games while Milojevic couldn't shake off the pressure from his second serve, being broken again in game 8 which was enough for the Frenchman to serve out for the set in the following game. Serb raised his level in the second set, he broke Adrian in the second game and he had a nice 5-2 advantage, looking good to send the match into a decider. Instead of that, Mannarino broke back in game 9 and he was unstoppable until the end, breaking Nikola once again in game 11 and sealing the triumph on own serve. From 2-5 down, Adrian won 20 out of the last 24 points, proving his status of a much better-raked player.
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 6-3 7-5 [1:32]
Happy Valley, Australia, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) :
German Peter Gojowczyk is the winner at Happy Valley, defeating home youngster Omar Jasika 6-3 6-1 in just 53 minutes, in the first lopsided final of the season. This was the 5th Challenger trophy for Gojowczyk, a former Top 100 player, the first since Nanchang in September of 2015. German fired 10 aces and used his strong first serve at maximum extent, losing just 2 points behind it, as Jasika couldn't find the way to crack it. On the other hand, Aussie had to earn every point from the court, since his serve is not that big weapon, and he lost more than 50% of the points on his serve, dropping serve 5 times from 10 chances that Peter had. German started strong, with a break in the opening game, and that set the tone for the rest of the encounter.
He moved 5-2 in front with another stolen serve in game 7, and after that, we saw two breaks in succession and 6-3 in the end. Omar held at the start of the second set but that was all he could do, Gojowczyk broke him in games 4 and 6 to close the match in the next game a few minutes later, winning the title much easier than he expected. In the semis, Omar was pushed down to the wire, beating Joris De Loore in the deciding tie break, so he didn't have too much left in the tank for the final, his first on the Challenger level in a career.
Peter Gojowczyk (GER) vs [WC]Omar Jasika (AUS) 6-3 6-1 
Bangkok, Thailand, $50,000+H (Outdoor Hard) :
Bangkok brought us the most exciting final, even though it was finished in straight sets just like the other 2. Janko Tipsarevic continued his comeback towards the Top 100 after 6-3 7-6 victory against Blaz Kavcic in 2 hours and 5 minutes. Janko missed the whole 2014 due to very serious problems he had with injuries but he was eager to return to the court, and since 2015 he is trying to find his old form (he had more problems in between), mixing Challengers and ATP tournaments. This title will give him a nice boost and he will stay in Bangkok for another tournament next week as well, where he will be the first seed (missing the qualifications for the Australian Open). This was the 12th Challenger trophy for Janko, who will seek his 150th win at this level next week, and the first since Qingdao last August.
Both players served at around 50% and it was Tipsarevic who picked more from that, keeping his second serve better and saving 5 out of 7 break points. Kavcic played against only 3 break points but the problem for him was the fact that he got broken on every one of them, which made all the difference in the match. Blaz had the better start, breaking Janko already in the first game, but Serb leveled the score with his break in game 4. After saving a break point in game 5 Janko took rival's serve once again for a 4-2 lead, and he won the set 6-3, with another 2 break points repelled in that final game. The second set was more fluid on both sides, Tipsarevic broke at love in game 7 but Kavcic responded with in game 10, in his final chance to pull the break back. Nevertheless, he couldn't utilize this momentum, as Janko won the tie break 7-1 to clinch the title.
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) vs Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 6-3 7-6(1) [2:05]