Chris Eubanks returns to Rafael Nadal's island for title defense

Chris Eubanks claimed his first ATP title in Mallorca last June

by Jovica Ilic
Chris Eubanks returns to Rafael Nadal's island for title defense
© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

27-year-old Chris Eubanks will defend his ATP 250 title in Mallorca in June, with the organizers announcing the first participant of the pre-Wimbledon grass-court event. Eubanks lifted his first ATP title at Mallorca Country Club last year, beating five rivals and cracking the top-50 after collecting 250 ATP points.

Chris used that momentum and enjoyed a great run at Wimbledon, reaching his first Major quarter-final before falling to Daniil Medvedev. The American can not wait to compete in Santa Ponsa again, enjoying the hospitality and the crowd a year ago en route to a significant milestone.

The tournament director, Toni Nadal, praised Eubanks and his grass-court skills, feeling excited about signing the defending champion for this year's edition.

Chris Eubanks, Wimbledon 2023© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Eubanks kicked off the campaign against world no.

250 Alex Michelsen and prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 in two hours and 18 minutes. Chris served at 79% and fired 16 aces, serving well and defending the only break chance he offered to his young compatriot. Michelsen dropped serve two times, once in the opener and once in the decider, ending his run in the first round despite a valiant effort.

Chris grabbed an early break in the first set and brought it home with a hold in game nine. They served well in the second set and introduced a tie break, a must-win one for Alex. The young gun fended off two match points at 4-6 and rattled off four points to steal the breaker and introduce a decider.

Eubanks led 6-5 after 11 comfortable holds before stealing the rival's serve in the pivotal moment and emerging at the top. Chris faced another young compatriot in the second round, with Ben Shelton pushing him to the limits.

The more experienced player prevailed 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 after two hours and 43 minutes of a grueling battle. Shelton fired 18 aces and 14 double faults, staying in touch and missing a chance to overpower his opponent. Eubanks never lost serve, staying composed after losing the opener and delivering the only break at the beginning of the second set.

They both missed opportunities on the return in the early stages of the decider, arranging the deciding tie break. Eubanks clinched it 7-2 and moved into the quarter-final.

Chris Eubanks, Wimbledon 2023© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Chris Eubanks will defend his grass-court Mallorca title in June.

The American faced Arthur Rinderknech in a battle for the semi-final and prevailed 7-6, 7-6 after an hour and 58 minutes.

There were two breaks on each side, and Chris claimed the pivotal points to cross the finish line first. Eubanks led 4-1 in the first set before Rinderknech climbed back and reached a tie break after fending off set points in game 12.

Chris claimed it 7-5 and grabbed an early boost. The Frenchman opened a 5-2 gap in the second set, serving for it in game nine but suffering the crucial break. Eubanks returned to the positive side and claimed the tie break 7-4 to book a place in the semi-final.

World no. 298 Lloyd Harris made him run for his money in a battle for a place in the final, with the American prevailing 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 after fending off five match points!

Chris Eubanks, Wimbledon 2023© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Both players defended six out of seven break points, staying neck and neck until the end.

Harris claimed five points more but not the ones that mattered the most, squandering his chances and keeping Eubanks on the title course. Eubanks made the worst start, dropping the opening eight points and chasing the result right from the beginning.

They served well in the rest of the set, and Lloyd clinched it with a fine hold in game ten after just over half an hour. Eubanks saved break points in the first game of the second set and grabbed his only break in the next one, settling into a fine rhythm and forging a 3-0 advantage.

The American wrapped up the set with a hold in game nine, forcing a decider and gaining a boost. The South African survived a massive challenge in games three and five, denying five break points and remaining on the positive side.

Chris served to stay in the match at 4-5 and faced three match points. The American denied them and held, introducing a deciding tie break. They stayed neck and neck after four consecutive mini-breaks, with Harris wasting match points at 7-6 and 9-8.

Eubanks converted his third match point at 10-9, delivering a notable escape and entering the title clash. World no. 43 Adrian Mannarino stood between Chris and his first ATP title, and the American used a boost from the semi-final encounter in a rock-solid 6-1, 6-4 victory in 63 minutes, lifting his first ATP trophy.

Chris Eubanks, Wimbledon 2023© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Eubanks landed 11 aces, dominating with his first serve and never facing a break point. The Frenchman failed to follow that pace, struggling to find the first serve and getting broken three times from as many chances offered to his opponent.

Chris tamed his strokes nicely and left Adrian far behind after keeping him below ten winners. Eubanks built the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, making a flying start and sealing the deal with an early break in the second set.

Rafael Nadal