* Tashkent, Uzbekistan, $125,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 31-year-old Russian Konstantin Kravchuk has had an amazing season so far for his standards, reaching the Top 100 for the first time in a career, mainly thanks to the Challenger events.
In Tashkent, he advances to his 5th final at this level in 2016 (had only 6 overall before this season) and improved to 3-8 in Challenger final, defeating the defending champion Denis Istomin 7-5 6-4. It was a close match between players of similar age, height, and ranking, but Kravchuk proved to be stronger to celebrate in straight sets, claiming the victory in the closing stages of the opening and the first games of the second set.
Russian used his serve better and he saved both break points to stay unbroken throughout the match and he broke Istomin twice from 5 chances to create the lead that he kept until the end. The match lasted an hour and 26 minutes and it was pretty fluid, with short rallies and only 5 deuces (4 on Konstantin's serve) to avoid the uncertainty in the game.
The first set was very close, nothing could separate the rivals until the 12th game when Istomin suddenly lost his serve at 15, leaving Kravchuk to serve out for the set in game 12, which wasn't the problem (Kravchuk has won 18 points in a row on his serve in the last 4 service games of the set).
The winner was pretty much decided after the opening game of the second set when Kravchuk broke Istomin again (and once again convincingly) to gain the lead, and he saved a break point in the following game to confirm the break.
By the end of the match Kravchuk could concentrate on his service games, holding without problems to win the set by 6-4 and bring the title home. Konstantin scored his 200th Challenger victory here in Tashkent, so he can remember this event for another nice milestone.
Final result: Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS) vs Denis Istomin (UZB) 7-5 6-4 [1:26]
* Monterrey, Mexico, $100,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : One of the most promising American players at the moment, 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo, was ranked outside the Top 500 at this point of the season 12 months ago, but he managed to jump across some 400 positions in the ATP rankings, and from Monday he will have a new career-high position following a title in Monterrey.
California native, seeded 5th here in Mexico, needed only 72 minutes to oust fellow American Denis Kudla 6-4 6-4 for his 2nd Challenger title (Lexington in July). He served very well, losing just 15 points in 10 service games, having difficulties only in the last game when he served for the victory, saving one break point before clinching the win.
Kudla played a fine match but he was simply outpowered by Escobedo's strong groundstrokes, and he lost his serve once in each set to find himself on the losing side. Ernesto made both breaks in the 5th game of each set and he managed to stay in front without any troubles, showing some great focus and stamina, and if he continues to play at this level he may well finish the season inside the Top 100, which would be huge for him.
Final result: Ernesto Escobedo (USA) vs Denis Kudla (USA) 6-4 6-4 [1:12]
* Fairfield, USA, $100,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The rain has caused a lot of troubles to the organizers, but after packed Saturday we got the names of the finalists.
19-year-old Frenchman Quentin Halys scored 2 easy wins to reach his second Challenger final, after Tallahassee in April when he won the title. In the semi-final, he toppled Brydan Klein 6-2 6-4 in 72 minutes after playing a very good match on both serve and return. Halys served great, firing 11 aces and losing just 11 points in 9 service games.
Klein had 3 break chances, though, but he converted only 1, which was far from enough to stay in contention for a longer time as he struggled on own serve badly. Halys pushed him to the limits on the second serve (Klein was 3 from 16 after missing the first) and he faced 11 break points, losing serve 4 times.
The match kicked off with holds at love on both sides, but after that, we saw 4 breaks in the next 5 games, Quentin scored 3 in a row to forge a 5-2 lead and he closed the set on own serve in the following game, for a 6-2.
Frenchman moved even closer towards the victory when he broke Klein in the 3rd game of the second set and he never looked back, losing just 1 points in the last 4 service games to advance to the title match in style. His rival there will be the 2nd seed Santiago Giraldo, who bested Joris De Loore 6-3 6-4 in 74 minutes.
This will be the 17th Challenger final for Giraldo (9-7 so far) and the second of the season, after winning the title in Prague at the end of July, and the first on hard courts in 7 years (Sacramento 2009). Santiago has lost his pace in 2016 a little bit, but with matches like this, he will be back inside the Top 70 in no time at all.
His serve was on a high note, losing just 9 points in 10 service games and playing against only 1 break point, while he took 40% of the return points to create 5 break points, converting one in every set to book his place in the final.
De Loore lost his serve already in the second game, which is never a good sign, and he saved another 2 break points in game 8, unable to do anything on the return as Giraldo won the opener 6-3. Belgian somehow stayed in touch until the 7th game of the second set but he lost his serve to fall 4-3 behind, and the match was over 3 games later.
Quarter-final results: Quentin Halys (FRA) vs Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-0 Ret 
[Q]Brydan Klein (GBR) vs Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-1 [1:48]
Joris De Loore (BEL) vs Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-4 6-1 [1:12]
Santiago Giraldo (COL) vs Grega Zemlja (SLO) 6-1 6-4 [1:11] Semi-final results: Quentin Halys (FRA) vs [Q]Brydan Klein (GBR) 6-2 6-4 [1:12]
Santiago Giraldo (COL) vs Joris De Loore (BEL) 6-3 6-4 [1:14] More results on the next page.. ALSO READ: Saturday's results in Challenger Tour: 4th title of the season for Bagnis, Michael Mmoh saves MP for his 1st final