Monterrey, Mexico, $100,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : It will be 1st and 5th seed in a battle for the title, as both Victor Estrella Burgos and Thiemo de Bakker easily won their semi-final matches. Veteran from Dominican Republic is playing only his third Challenger of the season, and first after Morelos in February, also in Mexico.
He has a negative score in Challengers on hard, but he will improve that after 4 wins in Monterrey. He beat American teen Ernesto Escobedo 6-4 6-4 in only 74 minutes. Victor won more points after both first and second serve, and made all breaks in few crucial games in between 7th game of first set and second set opener.
In that period they made 4 breaks in 5 games, with Escobedo losing his serve three times and not being able to come back into the match because both served great in the rest of second set. After title in Las Vegas last week, Thiemo de Bakker reaced another final, and for the first time in 3 years Dutch will play in back to back Challenger finals (South America in October 2012).
He had even an easier job in semi-final, beating second seed Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 6-1 in 71 minutes. Like Burgos, he mainly played clay Challengers, but also has positive score on hard, with one title. De Bakker broke in very first game after lots of deuces, when Lorenzi sent forehand long, and once again in 9th game, this time to love.
Dutch lost only 6 points on serve (still needed to save 2 break points) and he looked much better on fast hard court. Lorenzi struggled in virtually every point on serve in the second set, losing it 6-1 after de Bakker won 57% of return points, breaking in 2nd and 4th game.
Victor Estrella Burgos vs Ernesto Escobedo 6-4 6-4 (1:14)
Thiemo de Bakker vs Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 6-1 (1:11) Suzhou, China, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : Croat Matija Pecotic played only in Futures until July 2015, but after only 8 Challengers he made final, his biggest in career, after failing to reach quarter-final stage before Suzhou.
He beat similarly ranked home player Yan Bai by 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes, for big celebration. Bai served poorly (Pecotic won 56% on return), but looked better until the 6th game, we even had break point at the start of the match.
From that moment on, he lost his serve 6 time in a row, winning 2 games in second set after breaking Pecotic but just couldn't hold. Pecotic's rival in the final will be Challenger legend Dudi Sela, who won 18 Challenger titles, all on Outdoor hard courts.
He faced more resistance, as fourth seed Thomas Fabbiano tokk the second set 6-1, but Sela somehow prevailed in a strange third set. Sela lost only 5 points on serve in first set, creating 6 break points and stealing Italian's serve in the second and in the fourth.
Suddenly, it all changed in second set, as Israeli lost his serve 3 times in a row, winning only 6 points on serve. Third set was a feast of breaks, with both players unable to save any break chances (0 from 7), and it even wasn't close, with no single deuce or longer game.
Sela broke 4 times and somehow made final. Matija Pecotic vs Yan Bai 6-2 6-2 (1:06)
Dudi Sela vs Thomas Fabbiano 6-1 1-6 6-4 (1:38) Lima, Peru, $50,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Andrey Martin lost in first round of previous 4 Challengers, but will play in his tenth final of this rank here in Lima.
Martin and Jose Hernandez-Fernand played longest match of all semi-final matches this week, with Slovak prevailing after close second and third set. He lost his serve 3 times in first set, and once again in second set opener.
Fernandez served for the match at 5-4, even had match point but couldn't transform it after good attack from Martin, who in the end broke and won second set tie break. After 4 straight breaks in the middle of final set, Martin broke for the 3rd time in the eleventh game and served out for the win in next.
Gastao Elias knocked out 2nd seed Guido Pella in straight sets, for his 11th Challenger final (terrible score so far, 2-8). This was first semi-final for him after Santo Domingo in February, and he won 7-5 6-2, after better first serve and break points realization.
Both players created 5 chances to take opponents serve, but Portuguese did it 4 times. He served for the first set at 5-4 after a break in the seventh game, but Pella broke back, just to lose his serve again in next game. Elias didn't miss second chance to finish the set, after easy hold in 12th game.
He broke again in the third and in the fifth game of second set, and finished the match on his serve after big troubles (0-40 down) in the eighth game. Andrej Martin vs Jose Hernandez-Fernand 2-6 7-6 7-5 (2:24)
Gastao Elias vs Guido Pella 7-5 6-2 (1:30)