* Como, Italy, €64,000 (Outdoor Clay) : After losing in the opening qualifying round at the US Open, the 25-year-old Italian Salvatore Caruso went home to Italy to reach the second Challenger final in Como, lifting the first title with a 7-5 6-4 win over the Chilean Christian Garin in an hour and 42 minutes. Both players had their chances on the return but it was Caruso who controlled his second serve in a more efficient way, saving six out of nine break points he faced and stealing rival's serve five times from 14 opportunities to clinch the win in straight sets.
Garin gave his best but his serve just wasn't there, dropping half of the points behind his initial shot to end on the losing side despite a great comeback in set number two. They traded breaks in games one and four and after more break points in games six and seven they settled into a nice rhythm until Garin served for the tie break at 5-6.
He squandered two game points and Caruso converted the second set point when Christian netted a backhand. It was all about the Italian player at the start of the second set, scoring breaks in games four and six to move 5-1 up after a great volley that Garin failed to catch.
Out of sudden, the Chilean started to climb back, erasing the deficit with breaks in games seven and nine and serving for a 5-5 in the 10th game. Salvatore made one last push and he converted the fourth match points after back-to-back double faults from Garin to cross the finish line and lift his first Challenger trophy.
* Mallorca, Spain, $43,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : Just like Caruso, Bernard Tomic suffered an early loss in New York and he headed to Spain, entering the inaugural Rafa Nadal Open at Mallorca where he went all the way to win the first Challenger crown since Burnie 2010 when he was still 17! In the title match, Bernard toppled Matthias Bachinger 4-6 6-3 7-6 in two hours and 34 minutes, winning 15 points more than his rival but having to battle hard in order to prevail in the deciding tie break. We saw four breaks on each side, with Bachinger fending off eight of the 12 break points he faced while Tomic repelled six out of 10, playing better in the deciding set to become a deserved winner.
The German kicked off the match in a stronger fashion, earning breaks in games one and five before Tomic responded with two breaks of his own to prolong the set. Nonetheless, Mathias closed the set with a hold at 10, with both serving well in the last couple of games after five breaks of serve in the opening eight games.
Tomic was 3-1 down in set number two when he started his comeback, rattling off five breaks in a row to clinch the set 6-3 and force a decider, with the momentum on his side. The Aussie had to save three break points in the second game of the final set but overall he was the better player, creating five break chances but not being able to convert any, setting up a tie break to decide the champion.
Bernard won all five points on serve and he grabbed two mini-breaks at 2-1, creating the crucial gap and crossing the finish line in the 10th point when Bachinger netted a forehand to celebrate the title. Final results: