* Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, $125,000 (Outdoor Clay) : Damir Dzumhur, the top seed here in Santo Domingo, will play in his 11th Challenger final after a 6-3 7-6 triumph over Nicolas Jarry in an hour and 21 minutes. It was a very solid match from the Bosnian, who lost just 10 points on his serve, saving both break points to avoid any kind of setbacks in his games.
Jarry was unable to deliver the same numbers with his initial shot, losing 40% of the points and giving his rival 8 break chances. He fought better in the second set but it wasn't enough to send the match into a decider.
Damir sailed through his service games in the opening set, keeping the pressure on Jarry and Chilean got broken in the 1st and 9th games, losing the opener 6-3. They both served well in the first 8 games of the second set, using fast Har-Tru clay for easy holds, but Nicolas had a great chance to break in game 9, having a 40-15 on the return.
Dzumhur stayed focused, winning the next 4 points to bring the game home, and he had 2 match points on the return in game 12. Jarry fends them off to reach the tie break, although it was all he could do. Damir scored 3 mini-breaks to grab the breaker by 7-1 and advance to the title match.
37-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos will also play in his 11th Challenger final, beating Gastao Elias 6-4 1-6 7-6 in 2 hours and 22 minutes. This came in the perfect moment for Estrella Burgos, who lost the last 3 Challenger matches and who didn't play in the final since July last year.
Thanks to that second set where he was the dominant figure, Elias won 7 points more than his rival and he had more break points, but that wasn't enough to reach the final. Home player made a strong start, winning the opening 4 games, and he clinched the set by 6-4, as Gastao pulled only 1 break back.
Elias was flying over the court in the second set, dominating on both serve and return to take it by 6-1 with 2 breaks, and the momentum was on his side before the decider. There, they both settled into a nice rhythm, Victor saved 2 break points to set up the tie break which he won by 7-5, converting his 4th match point after being 6-2 up.
* Vancouver, Canada, $100,000 (Outdoor Hard) : Cedrik-Marcel Stebe is on the right track for the returning into the Top 100 for the first time since 2012, advancing to his 3rd Challenger final of the season and 10th overall following a 6-2 6-4 win over Joris De Loore in 66 minutes. Despite serving at only 49%, German lost just 13 points on serve, saving 2 out of 3 break points, and he won 50% of the return points, taking Belgian's serve on all 4 occasions.
The first set lasted less than an hour, Cedrik-Marcel found a nice rhythm right from the start and he clinched it by 6-2, with breaks in the 1st and 5th games. De Loore got broken at the start of the second set as well, making too many errors and unable to make an impact with his initial shot, but he pulled the break back after converting the 3rd break point in game 6, leveling the score at 3-3.
From 4-3 down, Stebe stepped in, taking 12 out of the last 14 points to finish the match in style, breaking at love in game 9 and closing the match on own serve a few minutes later. It will be the 10th Challenger final for the second seed Jordan Thompson as well, who eases past Stefano Napolitano 6-0 6-1 in just 63 minutes. Jordan was the dominant figure in the entire match, losing serve once but taking 65% of the return points and breaking Italian in every return game.
Napolitano served at 70% but he couldn't do anything in his games, winning just 16 out of 46 points, and it was that one return game that saved him from a double bagel. Thompson raced into a 6-0 4-0 lead when he played that one loose service game to help Stefano getting up there on the scoreboard, but the Aussie grabbed the next 2 games to wrap up one of his easiest wins in recent months.
* Cordenons, Italy, €64,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Roberto Carballes Baena didn't have to work hard to earn the place in his 6th Challenger final, spending only 27 minutes on the court against the top seed Laslo Djere who had to retire while trailing 5-1. Serb spent some 4 and a half hours on the court in his previous 2 matches and had nothing left in the tank for this one.
It was all about Spaniard in these 6 games, he lost just 3 points on serve and looked much more determined in the rallies, breaking Lasko in games 3 and 5. He won the 10 points in a row when Djere decided he has had enough.
Elias Ymer had to play the full match but he also didn't have to waste too much energy, scoring a 6-2 6-1 win over Lorenzo Giustino in 65 minutes, for his 3rd Challenger final, the first since Barletta in April 2016. Swede faced 4 break points, saving them all to keep his serve intact, and he was all over Giustino on the return, winning 60% of the points and breaking Italian 5 times from 8 chances.
Elias built a nice lead early on, racing to a 4-0 advantage, and he had 2 break points in game 5 as well, before Giustino finally ended his drought. Ymer continued to serve well, dominating the points in his games, and he closed the opener by 6-2.
Young Swede saved 2 break points earlier in the second set and he never looked back, taking the last 6 games of the match to sprint over the finish line, reaching the title match in style. * Meerbusch, Germany, €43,000+H (Outdoor Clay) :