* Chicago, USA, $150,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old American Reilly Opelka has made a solid progress so far in 2018 but his season was plagued with injuries that prevented him from playing on the regular basis.
It is so far so good for Reilly in Chicago, as the giant server reached his third Challenger final with a 6-3 7-6 win over Dominik Koepfer in an hour and 23 minutes. It was a close match and Opelka prevailed after saving all three break points in the third game of the opening set, scoring a break from the only chance he earned and prevailing in a tight set number two to seal the deal and book his place in the final, firing 13 aces and playing well on both the first and second serve.
Koepher wasted those three break points at 1-1 and he would never create a break point again, losing serve in the eighth game before Reilly closed the opener with a hold at love for a 6-3. Both players served well in the second set and the young American grabbed the breaker 7-3 after three mini-breaks for the second Challenger final in the last three tournaments.
The 2nd seed Denis Istomin has reached the 16th Challenger final and the first since Astana in November 2016 after a commanding 6-1 6-2 win over Bjorn Fratangelo in an hour and 11 minutes. Denis saved all three break points to keep his serve intact and mount the pressure on the other side of the net, winning 50% of the return points and converting four out of six break points to secure his place in the final in just over 70 minutes.
Fratangelo struggled to keep the pace with his rival, suffering breaks in games two and six to lose the opener 6-1 and falling 4-0 behind after a double break from Istomin in set number two. Bjorn saved a match point at 1-5 and he created three break points in the next game that could prolong the match for him a little bit, wasting all three before Istomin converted his third match point to join Reilly in the final.
* Genova, Italy, €127,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : The 33-year-old Dustin Brown has received a wild card for the main draw in Genova and he used it in the best possible way, advancing into his 16th Challenger final and the first since Szczecin two years ago after a 6-3 7-6 win over Thomaz Bellucci in an hour and 37 minutes. Dustin saved seven out of 10 break points and he won 44% of the return points to break Bellucci four times from eight opportunities he created.
The opening set was decided in the eighth game when Dustin grabbed a break before closing the set on won serve a few minutes later. There were 12 break points in the first four games of the second set and Thomaz opened a 4-1 lead with breaks in games two and four.
Dustin raised his level after that, pulling the break back in game seven and serving for the set at 6-5 after another break in game 11. Bellucci broke back at love in the last moment to set up a tie break where he came back from 5-2 down to level the score at 6-6.
Brown grabbed another mini-break in the 13th point and he sealed the deal with a service winner to move into the title match in front of the packed crowd. Semi-final results: