* Tashkent, Uzbekistan, $150,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 34-year-old Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is back inside the Top 100 after winning his 4th Challenger title, the second of the season.
Garcia-Lopez took down Kamil Majchrzak by 6-1 7-6 in an hour and 32 minutes, controlling his service games better and keeping the pressure on his rival all the time. The veteran got broken twice but he won 50% of the return points to cancel that, scoring 5 breaks from 10 opportunities he had.
Pole never found his rhythm in the opening set, losing serve 3 times in a row, and he found himself 3-1 down in set number 2 as well after Guillermo broke him in game 4. Kamil managed to get the break back in the following game, leveling the score at 3-3, and he claimed another break in game 9 to serve for the set.
He wasted 4 set points in the 10th game and Garcia-Lopez broke back to level the score at 5-5, returning the momentum to his side of the net. Spaniard was the dominant figure in the tie break, bringing the match home with 4 mini-breaks.
* Fairfield, USA, $100,000 (Outdoor Hard) : Mackenzie McDonald had a poor run in the Challenger semi-finals, unable to make that one extra push and reach the title match, but that all changed here in Fairfield, where he won his maiden trophy of this level, toppling Bradley Klahn 6-4 6-2 in 62 minutes for his best result in a career so far. Mackenzie played the Collegiate tennis for the UCLA and he won the NCAA Championships in spring of 2016, trying to make some pro success ever since.
He played great tennis this week, beating the players that he struggled against in the past, and he is on a career-high 164th position in the rankings, as the biggest mover in the Top 200! Both McDonald and Klahn had 7 break points but it was the younger American who prevailed in the crucial moments, breaking his rival 5 times and dropping serve only twice, which made all the difference.
Klahn lost 50% of the points in his games and he couldn't do much against the big first serves from McDonald. It was a shaky start from both, with 3 breaks in the opening 3 games, and it was Mackenzie who scored 2 to create the lead.
Klahn was back on the level terms after his second break in game 6 but he failed to gain the advantage, dropping serve again in game 7. Serving for the set, McDonald fends off 3 break points in game 10 to seal the opener by 6-4.
That gave him a huge boost and he was untouchable on serve in set number 2, which Bradley couldn't follow. Klahn lost his serve in games 1 and 5 and he saved the match point in game 7 to at least prolong the match for one more game.
That was all he could do, as McDonald delivered a hold at love in game 8 to celebrate his first Challenger titles in front of his friends and family.
* Ortisei, Italy, €64,000 (Indoor Hard) : Another player born in 1995 grabbed his first Challenger title yesterday, and his name is Lorenzo Sonego, who conquered the home event in Ortisei.
12 months ago, Lorenzo played his first Challenger semi-final here and now he went all the way, ranked 364th and with a wild card to enter the main draw. In the title match, Sonego beat German qualifier Tim Puetz by 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 23 minutes, saving all 3 break points and breaking his rival once in each set to bring the match safely home. After a solid start from both players, Sonego had to save 2 break points in game 7, and he broke Puetz in the best possible moment when German served to stay in the set in game 10.
Tim fends off 2 break points at the start of the second set to avoid an even bigger deficit, and he missed a break point in game 9, that could turn the match into his favor. He paid the price a few minutes later, as Lorenzo broke him in game 10 to wrap up the win.
* Buenos Aires 2, Argentina, $50,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : In by far the longest final of the week, Nicolas Kicker prevailed against the top seed Horacio Zeballos by 6-7 6-0 7-5 in 2 hours and 25 minutes after saving 2 match points, winning his 3rd Challenger crown and the first since Guayaquil last year. Overall, Kicker played better on his serve and he lost serve just twice, while Zeballos had to battle against 13 break points, dropping serve 6 times to end on the losing side.
Kicker was 5-3 up in the opening set, serving for it in game 10, but Horacio broke back to level the score at 5-5 and prolong his chances. More experienced Argentine then won the tie break by 7-5 to complete his comeback, but he was outplayed in set number 2 completely.
Kicker remained focused and he clinched the set in 29 minutes to force a decider. Nonetheless, Zeballos grabbed an early lead with a break at 15 in the first game, and they both served well in the remaining 6 games, in the best part of the match.
Horacio repelled 2 break points in game 8 to move 5-3 in front, and he had a match point on the return in game 9. Kicker saved it to reduce the deficit to 5-4, but he had to do the same, this time on the return in the 10th game.
Zeballos couldn't convert this second match point and he got broken in the end, which left him with nothing in the tank. Kicker broke his rival at love in game 12 to steal the win and lift the trophy.