Felix Auger-Aliassime writes history. De Minaur, Munar and Rodionov win


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Felix Auger-Aliassime writes history. De Minaur, Munar and Rodionov win

* Caltanissetta, Italy, €127,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : The 21-year-old Spaniard Jaume Munar has had three amazing weeks that propelled him inside the Top 100 for the first time in a career and boost his chances of reaching the U21 Milan Masters in November.

First, he qualified for the main draw at Roland Garros, ousting David Ferrer in a marathon match before losing to Novak Djokovic in three challenging sets, moving to Prostejov when he won his second Challenger title. He defeated Laslo Djere in the final and the same player had led 6-0 against him in the opening round of Caltanissetta last week before Jaume raised his level to win that match and go all the way to clinch his second Challenger title and the third overall, ousting Matteo Donati 6-2 7-6 in the title match.

It took an hour and 29 minutes for Munar to grab the win, serving at 79% and saving all six break points he faced to keep the pressure on the Italian. Matteo was broken once in each set to miss a chance of winning the title and he lost the ground to Jaume already in the first 20 minutes, losing the first four games of the match and the set after just over half an hour following a rock solid performance from the Spaniard.

Donati was the better player in the second set, sailing through his service games and creating a set point at 5-4 and another five at 6-5, wasting them all to fall 7-2 in the tie break after five mini-breaks from Jaume who was mighty relieved to score a win in straight sets after a shaky performance in the last two service games.

* Nottingham, Great Britain, €127,000+H (Outdoor Grass) : The 19-year-old Alex de Minaur has suffered the fourth defeat in the final of Challengers last week at Surbiton but Nottingham proved to be his lucky ground, scoring a 7-6 7-5 win over Daniel Evans in two hours for his maiden Challenger crown and a career-high ranking position. Alex lost just one set in five matches and he fought well in this one as well, winning 13 points more than Dan and saving three out of six break points.

The Briton got broken four times and he lost almost 50% of the points in his games, battling to stay in touch throughout the match but losing ground in the closing stages of both sets. Evans was the one who moved in front in game five, confirming the break with a hold at love in the following game before de Minaur got it back in game eight to level the score at 4-4.

The youngster was more focused in the tie break, scoring three mini-breaks for a 7-4, making a big step towards the first Challenger crown. The second set was even longer and it was Alex who grabbed an early lead before Dan pulled the break back in game six, only to get broken at 4-4 and allow de Minaur to serve for the title.

Alex wasted a match point in that 10th game to get broken but he restored his game immediately, winning eight of the last nine points to seal the deal and celebrate his biggest success on the Challenger level so far. * Lyon, France, €64,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : The 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime has struggled to find his zone so far in 2018 after that injury he suffered in December but he is on the right track after defending the title in Lyon, beating Johan Tatlot 6-7 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 31 minutes for his third Challenger crown in a career. Felix is the youngest player who defended a Challenger crown and also the fourth who won three crowns at this level before turning 18 after Richard Gasquet, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.

The young Canadian had to work hard to earn the title against a qualifier who had three Challenger wins so far, trailing 7-6 5-3 before claiming 10 of the last 12 games and march towards the title. Both players struggled to find the rhythm on serve and there were 27 break points in total, with Auger-Aliassime saving 10 out of 15 and scoring eight breaks on the other side from 12 opportunities.

They traded breaks in games five and six and again at 5-5 in the opening set to set up a tie break which Tatlot won 7-3 after four mini-breaks. They broke each other at the start of the second set and the Frenchman scored another one in game eight to serve for his maiden Challenger crown but Felix refused to surrender, winning four straight games to steal the set 7-5 and send the match into a decider where he was the favorite now.

Tatlot lost his ground completely and he got broken in the opening three games of the final set, making it five straight breaks for Auger-Aliassime who converted his third match point in the eight game to cross the finish line and celebrate a huge title that boosted his confidence and earned him a place in the record books. Final results:

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