* Barletta, Italy, €43,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Two top seeds reached the final in Barletta, and it was Aljaz Bedene who continued his great run on the Challenger Tour this season, winning his third title and improving to 15-0 after beating the Portuguese 7-6 6-3 in a grueling 2 hours and 8 minutes. Thus, Bedene increased the number of Challenger shields in his collection to 14, achieved from only 16 finals played.
Both players struggled to find the first serve and they were equally good when the first serve was in, but Bedene made the difference with his second serve. They both had 9 break points and we saw 11 breaks, 6 from Aljaz who scored two in the second set to clinch the win in straight sets.
Briton was off to a flying start, taking a 3-0 lead, including a double break, but Elias responded in style, taking the next 4 games to move 4-3 ahead. Bedene broke again in game 9, serving for the set in the next game, but he wasted 3 set points before Elias managed to break back and keep himself in contention.
Two final games of the set were won by returner as well so it was a tie break to decide the winner of the opener. Bedene grabbed the last 3 points to take it by 7-4, with 3 mini-breaks under his belt. The similar scenario occurred in the secon set as well, Aljaz rushed into a 3-0 lead but Elias pulled it back in game 5, returning to the positive side of the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, that lasted only for a couple of minites, as Bedene broke again in game 6 and that was enough to push him over the finish line after two good holds. Final result:
* San Luis Potosi, $50,000+H (Outdoor Clay) :
Slovak Andrej Martin claimed his 7th Challenger title after a 7-5 6-4 triumph against Adrian Menendez-Maceiras in an hour and 56 minutes. Martin ended the last season with poor results in Challengers, losing in the opening round 3 times, and this result came at the best possible moment, as he failed to reach the quarter-final at the Futures event in Croatia at the end of March. In the final match, Martin served at only 49% but he got the most from it, keeping both the first and the second serve safe and facing just two break points, dropping serve once. On the other hand, Spaniard had to play against 10 break points, saving 7 of those to limit the damage as much as possible, but straight sets loss was inevitable in the end.
Menendez-Maceiras had to dig deep from the very beginning, saving 3 break points in his opening service game, and another one in game 8 to level the score at 4-4. Finally, Martin found the way to break him in game 12, winning the opener by 7-5. Spaniard fought better earlier in the second set but he got broken in game 8, leaving Andrej to serve for the triumph. Slovak failed to take this opportunity, losing his serve for the first time in the match, but he recovered quickly, breaking again in game 10 to bring the match home and start title celebration, his first since August 2015 and Biella.
Andrej Martin (SVK) vs Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (ESP) 7-5 6-4 [1:56]