* Newport Beach, USA, $150,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : Taylor Fritz has been struggling to find the right form ever since he reached the Top 100 back in 2016, but he made some promising improvements at the start of 2018, reaching the final of Noumea Challenger and winning the title in Newport Beach, his first since January 2016 and Happy Valley! Fritz took down Bradley Klahn 3-6 7-5 6-0 in the title match to lift his fourth Challenger crown, in the match that lasted an hour and 35 minutes. With these 125 points, Taylor is now ranked 76th, which is his best position in more than a year, and he wants to crack the Top 50 as soon as possible.
Fritz defended his second serve better and that made the difference in the final (10 double faults from Klahn), saving four out of seven break points he faced and breaking Klahn six times from 13 opportunities, including four consecutive breaks of serve from 5-5 in the second set.
Bradley settled into a nice rhythm and he broke in game two when Taylor netted a backhand to gain an early lead. A huge forehand error from Fritz led to another break in game six and the older American closed the opening set in game nine after yet another mistake from Fritz.
Things changed in set number two, the youngster started to hit with more power and accuracy and he earned a break in game six when the left-hander sent a forehand long. Taylor couldn't stay in front for too long, though, losing serve in the very next game and being forced to serve well in games nine and 11 in order to stay in contention.
He did that in style and he found the way to break Bradley in the best possible moment, taking the set 7-5 and gaining the momentum before the decider. Klahn fought well until this point but he had nothing more left in the tank for the deciding set, winning just three points overall and losing all six games convincingly to hand the title to his opponent who closed the match with a forehand winner, celebrating a much-needed title after more than two years. Final result:
* Rennes, France, €64,000+H (Indoor Hard) :
Vasek Pospisil qualified for the Australian Open main draw and he lost in the first round to Marin Cilic in four sets. The Canadian left Melbourne immediately to get back to Europe and prepare himself for an indoor tournament in Rennes where he was the second seed, and it proved to be the best possible decision. Vasek played solid tennis to reach the final and he saved the best for last, ousting Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-2 in 72 minutes to lift his sixth Challenger trophy, the first since Busan in May last year (the last Challenger he played prior to Rennes). With these 90 points, Pospisil returns to Top 100 and he will now travel to Croatia for the Davis Cup tie against that country on the indoor clay surface. The Canadian fired 10 aces in the final and fends off all five break points he faced to keep his serve intact and the pressure on the other side of the net.
Berankis found it hard to deal with it, losing more than 50% of the points in his games and getting broken four times from nine opportunities Vasek created. Pospisil was off to a great start, breaking in game two after a volley error from his rival, and again in game six to move 5-1 in front. Serving for the set in the following game, Vasek saved two break points and he closed it with a volley winner, looking to continue in the same style in set number two. The third game of the second set was the longest of the match and Ricardas gave his serve away on rival's fifth break point, sending a forehand long to find himself a set and a break down. The Lithuanian squandered a 40-0 lead in game seven to drop serve again and Vasek sealed the deal with an ance in game eight, previously saving two break points.