* Tashkent, Uzbekistan, $125,000+H (Outdoor Hard): Tashkent was the strongest Challenger of this week, giving respectable 125 points to the winner. Rain caused a big trouble to organizers, and had a kind of "super thursday" with all matches of second round and all four quarter-finals being played on the same day.
It was in a situation like this that the top-four seeds showed their quality and won two matches each. Friday again was washed out, so it became necessary to go indoors on Saturday, where home player and top seed Istomin beat Bhambri from India, and Lacko prevailed over Berankis after two and a half hours of great battle.
On pretty fast Indoor court Istomin won title 6-3 6-4 in 66 minutes with one break in each set, winning 90% of points on first serve. This was the 10th Challenger title for talented Uzbek, ninth at home, and fifth final in a row where he was not defeated.
1/2 : Denis Istomin vs Yuki Bhambri 4-6 6-3 6-3 (1:52)
Lukas Lacko vs Ricardas Berankis 7-6 4-6 7-6 (2:32) Final : Denis Istomin vs Lukas Lacko 6-3 6-4 (1:06)
* Rennes, France €85,000+H (Indoor Hard): Only Indoor tournament of the week gathered very strong field with lot of top-100 players, and quality of tennis didn"t disappoint.
In the last seven matches, six went tge distance, with very close final in which Malek Jaziri won over Igor Sijsling 5-7 7-5 6-4 after two hours and 12 minutes. Doing so, Tunisian revenged losing to Igor in Quimper final (also Indoor) three and a half years ago.
Atmosphere was great thanks to packed crowd, mostly on Jaziri"s side. In the end both players won 103 points, but Jaziri stepped up in third set, saving both break points and converting only break chance he got. In short, Malek played better in big points, saving all four break points in second and third set, taking the last point with nice volleys at the net.
This was the third Challenger title for Jaziri, from nine finals, after two he won in Geneva, also Indoors. With 110 points he will be back in Top-100 tomorrow. Malek has no time for celebration because next week he plays in Moscow, vs Berankis in a tough first round match.
1/2 : Igor Sijsling vs Illya Marchenko 7-6 3-6 6-4 (2:17)
Malek Jaziri vs Ivan Dodig 6-7 6-3 7-6 (2:27) Final : Malek Jaziri vs Igor Sijsling 5-7 7-5 6-4 (2:12)