Koblenz, Germany, €43,000+H (Indoor Hard) :
With all the eyes being set on big Melbourne stage, Conlog Arena was the site of the inaugural Challenger tournament in Koblenz, that gathered some interesting players in the battle for the handful 80 points. It wasn't the best possible tournament for the seeds, as neither of them 8 reached the quarter-final, which happened for the first time since Vancouver 2015. After all, Belgian Ruben Bemelmans won his 5th Challenger title, the first since Le Gosier, Guadeloupe at the start of April 2015, proving once again he is one of the best indoor players among the lower-ranked competitors. Ruben needed 2 hours and 3 minutes to oust home player Nils Langer by 6-4 3-6 7-6, firing 13 aces and losing his serve twice from 6 chances Langer created. On the other hand, German had some lower percentages on serve and he had to play against 11 break points, managing to save 9 and stay in contention until the final set tie break, which Ruben won 7-0. The match started with love service games from both but Bemelmans drew first blood in game 3, breaking his rival at 15 after a forehand error from Langer.
Nils got back on the scoreboard in game 6 with a great forehand down the line winner to level the score at 3-3, only to waste 2 game points in the following game to drop his serve once again, this time making a backhand error. This break was enough for Ruben to bring the set home by 6-4, forcing a mistake from his rival to earn an early lead in the match. Langer bounced back in set number 2, saving all 4 break points he faced to keep his serve intact, and he converted the only chance he got on the return to winning the set by 6-3 and send the match into a decider. Bemelmans wasted those chances in games 3 and 7 and he was punished in the very next game when he lost his serve after hitting an easy forehand wide. Langer was now 5-3 in front and he grabbed the set on own serve a few minutes later, as he was handed another mistake from Ruben, this time with a backhand slice that finished into the net.
The final set produced the biggest drama, Bemelmans saved 4 and Langer 3 break points to keep the result with serve all the time. Belgian served well and he had those problems in game 9, climbing back from 0-40 down and saving another break point after that, finding some good serves in those moments, and he had a match point on return in game 12. Langer saved it with a brave backhand winner to stay alive and reach the tie break, which was a true anticlimax, as Ruben won it 7-0, which is very rare in situations like this. Ruben opened the breaker with a backhand down the line winner and he never looked back, hitting another one for a 3-0 lead and everything was over when he forced a volley error from Langer with a great running forehand, starting a celebration of a much-needed title.
Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) vs Nils Langer (GER) 6-4 3-6 7-6(0)