First Challenger title for Eubanks, Quinzi and Gunneswaran


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First Challenger title for Eubanks, Quinzi and Gunneswaran

* Anning, China, $150,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : 28-year-old Prajnesh Gunneswaran has won his first Challenger title in Anning, entering the Top 200 for the first time in his career with these 125 points. The Indian defeated Mohamed Safwat in the title match 5-7 6-3 6-1 in an hour and 52 minutes for his first title on this level, overcoming a slower start to dominate in sets two and three. Gunneswaran lost his serve on all four break points he gave to the Egyptian but that didn't cost him much since he won almost 50% of the return points to create 13 break chances and convert seven, good enough to seal the deal in under two hours.

Mohamed gained a 5-3 lead in the opening set with two breaks of serve but he got broken while serving for the set in the 10th game. Nonetheless, he kept his focus and broke Gunneswaran again in game 11 to close the set on own serve a few minutes later.

The second set was shorter and more fluid and this time it was Prajnesh who had the upper hand, breaking Safwat in games six and eight and closing the set with a hold at love for a 6-3, sending the match into a decider. With the momentum on his side, Gunneswaran lost just four points on serve in set number three and Safwat wasn't capable of producing similar numbers in his games, dropping serve three times in a row to hand the win to his rival.

* Leon, Mexico, $75,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old former Georgia Tech University star Christopher Eubanks has won his first Challenger crown as well after a hard-fought 6-4 3-6 7-6 triumph over John-Patrick Smith in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Eubanks had 14 aces but also 11 double faults, struggling on his second serve and getting broken four times from 12 chances he gave to Smith.

The Aussie had to play against nine break points and he lost serve three times, battling for the final set but just coming short in the deciding tie break. John-Patrick had an early lead after the opening two games of the match but Eubanks broke back in game four on his fifth break point, leveling the score at 2-2.

The American got the crucial break in game 10 to grab the opener 6-4 but he lost the ground completely in the second set, facing 11 break points and losing serve three times to send the action into the final set. They saved the best for the last and nothing could separate them before the tie break and Chris was more focused in the crucial moments, scoring two mini-breaks to earn the win and celebrate his biggest success on the Tour so far.

* Tallahassee, USA, $75,000 (Outdoor Clay) : Noah Rubin has had two busy weeks behind him, losing in the final of the USA F11 Futures and winning Tallahassee Challenger, his fourth crown at this level and the second of the season after Noumea in the opening week.

In the battle of the youngsters, Rubin defeated Marc Polmans 6-2 3-6 6-4 in the final after 2 hours and 7 minutes, serving well and losing serve only once. Polmans had to work harder in his games to stay in touch, facing 10 break points (six in the last game of the match) and fending off seven of those to stay in touch until 4-4 in the decider.

Rubin was off to a flying start, rattling off five games in a row to take the opening set 6-2 and creating another chance o the return in the third game of set number two. Marc saved that break point and he played better in the rest of the set, earning a break in game four for a 3-1 lead and closing the set with a hold in game nine to set up a decisive set.

After six easy holds on both sides it was Rubin who faced an ultimate challenge in game seven, fending off four break points to keep his serve intact and making one last push on the return in order to close the match before the tie break.

He created six break chances in game 10, finally converting the last one to seize the set 6-4 and celebrate his second Challenger crown of the season. * Francavilla, Italy, €43,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Gianluigi Quinzi is a former junior world number 1 and one of the biggest prospects of 1996 generation has been dealing with injuries ever since he made his first steps on the pro circuit, entering the Top 400 at the age of 17 but not making the next move that would propel him higher through the rankings (he never entered the Top 200). Gianluigi had the opportunity to play his first Challenger tournament at the age of 16, in Rome 2012, advancing to the first semi-final back in 2013 but never managing to reach the title match until Francavilla where he defeated another talented youngster Casper Ruud 6-4 6-1 in 70 minutes for his first Challenger title and the biggest result in a career so far. It was a rock solid performance from the Italian, dropping nine points in eight service games and suffering only one break.

Casper was nowhere near those numbers behind his initial shot and he had to play against 11 break points, losing serve five times to end on the losing side. Quinzi made the perfect start, opening a 4-0 lead and closing the set on his fifth set point in game 10, as Casper managed to pull one break back at 4-1.

The second set lasted less than 30 minutes and the Italian was the dominant figure on the court, holding at love in three service games and stealing Ruud's serve in games one, three and seven to finish the match in strong fashion and make a fresh new start that could finally bring him inside the Top 200 in the rest of the season. Final results:

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