Gasquet wins first title in 7 years. Maiden one for King and Wu

Tennis - Yibing Wu is the 4th player at the age of 17 & under with a Challenger crown in 2017

by Jovica Ilic
Gasquet wins first title in 7 years. Maiden one for King and Wu

* Szczecin, Poland, €127,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Richard Gasquet couldn't find the form this summer on the ATP Tour, and he decided to step down to the Challenger level for the first time since 2010, playing only his third Challenger since 2005! It proved to be a good decision, as he won 125 points and the 9th title of this rank, improving his score in Challenger finals to 9-1.

In the title match, Gasquet defeated another Top 100 player and the second seed, Florian Mayer, by 7-6 7-6 in an hour and 38 minutes. As the result suggests, almost nothing could separate the rivals, both scoring 2 breaks from 4 opportunities, but it was Gasquet who had the advantage in both tie breaks to seal the deal in straights.

Mayer opened the match in a stronger fashion, breaking in the 3rd game to create a 5-3 gap, but Gasquet broke back at love in game 10 when German served for the set. Mayer saved 2 set points in the 12th game to reach the tie break, and it was Gasquet who was the more focused player, scoring 4 mini-breaks for a 7-3.

The second set was also very fluid and this time it was Richard who got the break first, stealing his rival's serve in game 7 to serve for the match in game 10. He had a match point but Mayer fends it off and broke back to prolong the encounter and his chances.

German had a 3-1 lead in the tie break but he lost the ground after that, losing 6 out of the last 7 points to end the match on the losing side. In his last Challenger event, in Bordeaux 2010, Gasquet was also victorious, and he conquered 4 out of the last 5 tournaments he played at this level.

* Istanbul, Turkey, $75,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 33-year-old Malek Jaziri claimed his 7th Challenger title, successfully defending his Istanbul title that he won 12 months ago. Jaziri, the top seed, took down the 6th seed Italian Matteo Berrettini by 7-6 0-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 36 minutes, in a rather strange result. Matteo won 15 points more than his rival, thanks to that dominant performance in the second set, and he scored 6 breaks compared to 4 for Jaziri, but Tunisian prevailed with better tennis in the deciding moments of the final set.

Berrettini was a break down in the first set and he saved a set point in game 9, pulling the break back in game 10 and gathering the momentum. Jazir saved 4 set points in the 12th game, and this will prove to be one of the pivotal moments of the entire match, as he won the tie break 7-4 to steal the opener.

Matteo stormed over the second set, losing just 11 points and breaking Malek thrice for a 6-0 in 30 minutes, entering the final set as the favorite. There, more experienced player regrouped and started to play better on his serve, earning 3 break points in game 6.

Matteo saved them to stay in touch but he got broken next time around, leaving Jaziri to serve for the match at 5-3. Italian broke back to extend the drama but he had to lay down his weapons when Malek broke again in game 12 to start the title celebration.

* Shanghai, China, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : 17-year-old Yibing Wu made quite a journey in the last 14 days, winning the US Open boys title in both singles and doubles and flying across the world from New York to Shanghai to play the Shanghai Challenger.

Not only that he recovered from different time zones and a long trip but he went all the way to grab his first Challenger title, without a set lost! Yibing became the second player born in 1999 with Challenger title, after Denis Shapovalov, and the 4th who was victorious at this level in 2017, aged 17 or under. In the final, youngster defeated the most successful Challenger player ever, Yeh-Hsun Lu, who was forced to retire after losing the first set in the tie break, bothered by a right shoulder injury.

It has to be said that Lu played better throughout the opener, losing just 9 points on serve and breaking in the 5th game for a 3-2 lead. He served for the set in game 10 when Yibing broke back, and teenager saved a set point in the tie break to grab it by 8-6.

After that, Yen-Hsun decided he has had enough, and Wu lifted his biggest title in a career so far, winning his first Futures back in March, also at home. Thanks to this result, we will see Yibing in Chengdu and Shanghai Masters, as he received a wild card for both events, making his ATP debut.

* Cary, USA, $50,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 26-year-old Kevin King captured his maiden Challenger title in Cary, beating Cameron Norrie 6-4 6-1 in 63 minutes. Kevin was ranked 872nd when the season started and he gained almost 200 places with this title for his career-best ranking.

This was only his second Challenger semi-final result, after Guadalajara in 2015, and he made sure to go all the way, playing rock solid tennis against Norrie to lift the title. Kevin's first serve worked like a charm and he saved 3 out of 4 break points to limit the damage in his games.

On the other hand, Cameron struggled big time with his second serve (won 5 out of 20 points) and he faced 7 break points, managing to save just 2 and completely losing the ground in the second set. King pushed strong right from the start, breaking twice and moving 5-2 ahead before Norrie pulled one break back to reduce the deficit to 5-4.

American played a loose service game again when he served for the set for the second time, but he saved 3 break points in that 10th game to grab the opener by 6-4. The second set was a one-sided affair, with King scoring 3 breaks to clinch the win and his most important title in a career so far.

* Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina, €43,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Hard-hitting German Maximilian Marterer was the dominant figure in Banja Luka, dropping just 22 games en route to his 3rd Challenger title, the first since Kenitra a year ago.

In the final match, Maximilian took down Carlos Taberner by 6-1 6-2 in just 58 minutes, never losing his serve and winning almost 50% of the return points. Carlos faced 4 break points and he failed to save any, being forced to chase the result from start to finish, and Marterer simply outplayed him in the baseline rallies.

German was off to a flying start, rattling off the first 5 games and taking the set by 6-1, losing 3 points behind his serve. He broke at the start of the second set as well to gain the full control of the scoreboard and Taberner saw writings on the wall when he got broken in game 5 as well.

Marterer saved a break point in games 6 and he brought the match home 2 games later, with another comfortable hold.
Final results:



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Yibing Wu