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Donskoy wins 11th title, Krajinovic march on. Elias edges Olivo

Donskoy wins 11th title, Krajinovic march on. Elias edges Olivo

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by Jovica Ilic

* Kaohsiung, Taiwan, $125,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 27-year-old Russian Evgeny Donskoy grabbed his 11th Challenger title, beating Marius Copil 7-6 7-5 in an hour and 37 minutes. As the result suggests, it was a very close match, but Donskoy managed to overcome his rival in the closing stages of both sets to prevail in straights.

He lost just 12 points on serve in 12 service games, saving a break point in the 5th game of the first set, and he scored a crucial break in the last return game to edge his rival, who fends off 2 out of 3 break chances. They both had 1 opportunity to break in the first set but it had to be decided in the tie break, which Donskoy won by 7-0.

Nothing could separate the rivals in the opening 10 games of the second set, before that crucial 11th game when Copil wasted 3 game points before Evgeny broke him to take a 6-5 lead. Serving for the match, Russian held at love to seal the deal and clinch his first crown since Zhuhai in March.

* Monterrey, Mexico, $100,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : Promising German Maximilian Marterer is on a verge of entering the Top 100 after a hard-fought 7-6 7-6 victory against Bradley Klahn in just 92 minutes, winning his 4th Challenger crown and the second of the season. It was a very fast and fluid match, with short points and just 1 deuce, and there were no break points in the entire encounter.

Everything was decided in those two tie breaks and Maximilian was more focused in both, winning 3 points more than Klahn to wrap up the win in 2 sets. From 3-2 down in the first tie break, Marterer won 5 points in a row to notch it by 7-3, which gave him more room in set number 2.

Bradley did his best to remain in contention and they reached the second tie break with no troubles at all, unable to do anything on the return. Marterer had 2 match points at 6-4 but the American saved them all to level the score at 6-6.

Nonetheless, he lost the last 2 points to drop the tie break by 8-6 and finish on the losing side, missing a chance to lift the trophy for the first time since Traralgon, almost 3 years ago. * Stockton, USA, $100,000 (Outdoor Hard) : Cameron Norrie, the Collegiate player from Great Britain is enjoying in the tennis of his career at the moment, winning his second Challenger in a row and 14 of the last 15 matches at this level! This was the 3rd title for him overall, conquering them all since July, and he earned it with a solid 6-1 6-3 victory against Darian King from Barbados in 68 minutes. Norrie served well, facing just 2 break points and losing serve once, and he was the dominant figure on the return as well, winning 56% of the points and breaking King 5 times from 8 opportunities.

Darian never found the rhythm and he couldn't overpower his rival from the baseline, making too many errors and struggling on his second serve all the time. Norrie raced into a 5-0 lead with breaks in games 2 and 4, and KIng saved a set point in game 6 to avoid a bagel.

That didn't help him much, as Cameron closed the opener with a hold at love in the following game for a 6-1. The second set was more competitive, they traded breaks in games 3 and 4 but it was Norrie who stepped in the closing stages, taking the last 4 games to cross the finish line in style, just like he opened the encounter.

* Almaty, Kazakhstan, $50,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Filip Krajinovic has been the best player on the Challenger Tour in 2017, and he is at a career-high ranking after lifting his 5th crown of the season and the 9th overall.

Filip took down fellow Serb Laslo Djere by 6-0 6-3 in just 62 minutes for his 10th victory in a row, never losing more than 4 games in 20 sets! They were ranked close to each other but it didn't seem like that on the court, with Djere making 9 double faults and never finding his zone, outplayed by Krajinovic in every segment.

Krajinovic saved all 5 break points to keep his serve intact and he won almost 60% of the points on the return, breaking Laslo 5 times from 9 opportunities he created. Djere won their previous 2 matches in 2017 but he stood no chance in this one, dropping the opening set in just 20 minutes, taking just 7 points in 6 games.

Younger Serb saved 4 break points in the 3rd game of the second set to at least prolong the match but Filip found the way to break him next time around, taking a 3-2 lead. Krajinovic had to dig deep to stay in front, repelling 4 break points in game 6, and he sealed the deal with another break in game 9.

* Campinas, Brazil, $50,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : In the only final of the week that went into a decider, Portuguese Gastao Elias won his 7th Challenger crown, and the first since Mestre in May last year.

In the match that lasted 2 hours and 8 minutes, Gastao took down Renzo Olivo by 3-6 6-3 6-4, taking 7 points more than his rival and breaking him 5 times, while suffering 4 breaks of serve on the other side. Elias defended his second serve better, saving 4 out of 8 break points, and he had 11 chances to steal rival's serve, converting 5 to propel himself over the finish line.

Olivo kicked off the match in a stronger fashion, moving 4-1 ahead with a break in game 4, and he saved a break point in the 7th game to win the set in the next service game. The second set saw more opportunities for the returners, with 5 breaks of serve in 9 games, and they traded breaks twice before Elias got the crucial one in game 8, winning 8 out of the last 10 points to take the set by 6-3 and send the match into a decider.

There, Olivo looked in control, rattling off 12 out of the first 14 points for a 3-0, before Gastao broke back in game 5 to get himself back on the scoreboard. Renzo did well to save 2 break points in game 7 but Elias was now the better player on the court and he notched that deciding break in game 9, serving out for the title in the following game.


Final results:

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