Maiden final for Lloyd Harris. Clash of veterans in Sopot


Maiden final for Lloyd Harris. Clash of veterans in Sopot

* Chengdu, China, $125,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The top seed Henri Laaksonen will compete in his fourth Challenger final and the first since Champaign in 2016 after a hard-fought 2-6 6-4 6-1 win over James Ward in an hour and 53 minutes. The Swiss dominated with his first serve and despite losing serve three times he controlled the match after the opening set, creating 20 break points in sets two and three and converting five for the place in the final.

The Briton served at 47%, hitting 10 double faults and losing the ground after a great opening set to miss a chance of playing in the final. James sailed through his service games in the opening set and he broke Henri in games two and eight for a 6-2 in under 30 minutes but things changed in set number two, with Swiss who didn't face a break point and stole rival's serve in the opening game to win it 6-4.

Ward faded away from the court in the decider, getting broken four times from 12 opportunities he gave to Laaksonen and Henri had no troubles to bring the match home despite one loose service games at 3-0. * Segovia, Spain, €85,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 20-year-old Ugo Humbert has advanced to his third consecutive Challenger final in the last 20 days, ousting the 3rd seed Luca Vanni 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes. The Frenchman served at 53%, hitting six aces and seven double faults but he stayed unbroken in the entire match after saving all five break points he faced.

Vanni lost his serve only once but that was enough to ruin his chances, losing a tight opener and giving his serve away at 4-4 in set number two. The Frenchman was on fire in the opening set, dropping just six points behind his initial shot and creating three break points, including the one that could give him the set at 6-5.

Ugo claimed the tie break 7-5 after two mini-breaks and he was hoping for more of the same in the rest of the match. Instead of that, Vanni restored his shots, serving well and creating four break points at 2-1 that could move him in front.

Humbert saved them and he stole the serve of his rival in game nine after Luca wasted five game points, serving for the win at 5-4. He had to save a break point but in the end the victory was in his hands and he will try to go a step further than in Gatineau and Granby where he lost the title matches.

* Lexington, USA, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old South African Lloyd Harris has advanced into his maiden Challenger final, toppling Joris De Loore 6-1 6-3 in an hour for his biggest result in a career so far. Lloyd served at 73% and it was a super fine performance in his games, dropping eight points in total and never facing a break point.

The Belgian struggled to match those numbers, dropping 44% of the points in his games and facing 11 break points, suffering four breaks to end his run in the semis. The South African needed less than 30 minutes to clinch the opener, losing three points on serve and breaking De Loore in games two and four for a 6-1.

Nothing changed in set number two and Harris was marching towards the finish line with a double break in games one and nine to secure the place in the first Challenger final. * Sopot, Poland, €64,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : The 36-year-old Italian Paolo Lorenzi is one of the biggest Challenger legends and he is through to his 35th final at this level following a commanding 6-4 6-0 win over Zdenek Kolar in an hour and 23 minutes. Paolo saved all six break points he faced and he won more than 50% of the return points to control the scoreboard all the time and get a chance to play for his 20th Challenger crown.

Kolar fought well in the first set after getting broken in the opening game, fending off two set points at 3-5 before Lorenzi closed the set on own serve in game 10. It was all about Paolo in set number two, scoring three breaks and defending his games nicely to outplay the Czech from the baseline and seal the deal in style to enter the title match. Semi-final results:


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Lloyd Harris Pedro Sousa Andrej Martin