* Taipei, Taiwan, $125,000+H (Indoor Carpet) : In the heat of the European clay court swing, only two Top 100 players came to Taipei to play a very strong Challenger on indoor carpet and fight for 110 points. Marcos Baghdatis lost in the opening round but Challenger legend Yen-Hsun Lu still stands strong, reaching his 43rd Challenger final, the first since last October. 33-year-old needed just an hour and 22 minutes to beat Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4, breaking Canadian once in each set.
Lu served better, losing just 12 points in 10 service games, saving one break point he offered to Vasek, and on the other hand, he grabbed almost 40% of the return points, creating 6 break points and converting 2 for a safe win.
Lu faced that break point in the 4th game and he broke Pospisil right after that to go 3-2 up, keeping the lead until the end of the set. Vasek saved 3 break/set points on serve in game 9 but Yen-Hsun brought the set home with another solid hold in game 10.
The home player got in the driving seat with another break at the start of the second set and that was all he needed to clinch a win, serving well until the end of the set to avoid any kind of troubles. In the all-Japanese affair, Tatsuma Ito earned the place in his 17th Challenger final after a 6-4 2-6 7-5 win over a teenager Akira Santillan. More experienced player made a difference with his second serve and despite we saw 3 breaks on each side, Ito was the one who had more chances on the return, playing better tennis in sets he won.
Tatsuma was off to a stronger start, creating 6 break points in the first set, finally converting that last one to move 5-4 in front and finishing the set on own serve a few minutes later. Santillan showed his full potential in set number 2, cracking down some big serves to stay away from break points, and he grabbed the last 4 games of the set for a 6-2, gathering all the momentum before the start of the final set.
Set number 3 brought the biggest battle, they both served well until 3-3 when they exchanged breaks to stay neck and neck. Nevertheless, Ito made a final push in game 11, breaking his rival for a 6-5 lead and closing the match in the next game.
* Qingdao, China, $125,000 (Outdoor Clay) : German Oscar Otte came to Qingdao with just 1 Challenger win in a career, scored 3 weeks ago in St. Brieuc, but he will have a chance to go all the way here in China, reaching the final after a 7-5 6-4 win over the 5th seed Quentin Halys in an hour and 33 minutes. It was a close match but Otte played better in the crucial moments, saving 5 out of 7 break points and taking rival's serve 4 times to seal the win in straight sets.
Halys, ranked more than 200 places above the German, took 12 out of the first 14 points to start the match with a healthy 3-0 lead butOtte broke back in game 5 to get back on the scoreboard. Germa scored another break in game 11 to move in front, and he capped the opener with a love service game for a 7-5.
Oscar made another break to launch the second set and he was very close to his first final at this level when he played another good return game to move 5-2 in front. Quentin was still giving his best, fending off 5 match points to cut his deficit to 5-4, but Otte stayed calm in game 10, he saved two break points and finished the match on his 7th match point.
Janko Tipsarevic is carving his way back towards the Top 50 after having to deal with numerous problems and injuries, and he is one of the most efficient players on the Challenger Tour in 2017, reaching his 3rd final from as many tournaments and standing at 14-0 score.
Janko advanced to his 18th final at this level following a 6-3 6-4 triumph against the 5th seed Mathias Bourgue in an hour and 20 minutes. Serb had a great serving display, dropping 7 points in 9 service games and he was all over Bourgue on return, creating 5 break points and converting 3 to stay in the lead all the time.
Tipsarevic played two great return games in the opening set, breaking Mathias at love in games 3 and 9 for a commanding 6-3, but the Frenchman fought better in set number 2 to stay in touch until game 10. Serving to stay in the match, he dropped his serve on third break point to hand the win to Tipsarevic.
* Sarasota, USA, $100,000 (Outdoor Clay) :