Paolo Lorenzi claims the 20th title! The first one for Harris and Humbert

Tennis - Henri Laaksonen had to retire against Ze Zhang while Andrey Martin scored a commanding win over Pedro Sousa

by Jovica Ilic
Paolo Lorenzi claims the 20th title! The first one for Harris and Humbert

* Chengdu, China, $125,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The top-ranked Chinese player Ze Zhang has won his second Challenger crown when the top seed Henri Laaksonen retired while trailing 6-2 2-5. The Swiss controlled the scoreboard after winning eight of the opening 10 games but he suffered an injury that reduced his chances and the momentum.

From 2-0 down in the second set, Zhang claimed five straight games to take a 5-2 lead and Henri was forced to retire before the end of the set after receiving a medical timeout. * Segovia, Spain, €85,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 20-year-old Frenchman Ugo Humbert has made a steady progress so far in 2018, winning three Futures titles before heading to Gatineau and Granby where he played back-to-back Challenger finals.

He lost both of those but Segovia was the third time lucky for him, beating Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 35 minutes to lift his maiden Challenger crown. Ugo saved five out of six break points and he scored three breaks from eight chances to emerge as a winner in straight sets.

The first set was decided in the second game when Humbert went 2-0 up and he stayed in front after saving four break points in games five and seven, closing the set with a nice hold in game nine. The Spaniard suffered breaks in games one and five in the second set to fall 4-1 behind and Humbert sealed the deal with a hold in game 10 to celebrate his biggest success so far.

* Lexington, USA, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : Another NextGen star Lloyd Harris has won his first Challenger title after a dominant 6-4 6-3 win over Stefano Napolitano in an hour and 19 minutes, completing an impressive week with no set lost and just three breaks of serve he suffered. Lloyd fired 13 aces against Stefano, losing 11 points in 10 service games and getting broken only once.

The Italian failed to match that pace and he lost 45% of the points in his games, facing nine break points and giving his serve away three times to finish runner-up. Stefano was off to a better start, breaking Lloyd in game seven but the South African was ready to fight back, winning the next three games to grab the opener 6-4 after breaks in games eight and 10.

Harris lost just three points on serve in set number two and he moved in front with a break at love in game two, serving for the match at 5-3. He clinched the win with four winners in game nine, starting a huge celebration and building the confidence for the upcoming events.

* Sopot, Poland, €64,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : Facing each other for the seventh time on the Challenger Tour, the 36-year-old Paolo Lorenzi has ousted Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-6 6-7 6-3 in two hours and 58 minutes for his 20th Challenger title and his first since Caltanissetta last year. Paolo was broken five times from seven chances he gave to Gimeno-Traver but he erased that deficit on the return, creating 15 break points and seizing six chances to prevail and conquer the title that brings him back inside the Top 100.

Daniel was off to a better start, breaking Paolo in games one and five for a 4-1 but the Italian won the next four games to turn the tables and move in front. They traded breaks at love in games 11 and 12 to set up a tie break and Lorenzi won it 7-2 to move closer to the finish line.

The second set was also very tight, it started with back-to-back breaks and Lorenzi saved a set point at 4-5 to set up another tie break, a must-win one for the Spaniard. From 5-2 down, Gimeno-Traver won five points in a row to steal the set and prolong the match and his chances.

Nonetheless, Lorenzi had the upper hand in the decider, scoring two breaks to take the set 6-3 and celebrate the milestone title. Final results:


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Paolo Lorenzi Henri Laaksonen Pedro Sousa