* Newport Beach, USA, $162,480+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old Taylor Fritz is on a career-high ranking this Monday after defending the title at Newport Beach, beating the 16th seed Brayden Schnur 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 25 minutes for his fifth Challenger crown.
Following the third round run in Melbourne where he lost to Roger Federer, Taylor asked for a wild card in Newport and he made the best possible decision, winning five matches to grab 125 points and crack the top-40. Fritz blasted 16 aces and he repelled all four break points to keep the service games intact and mount the pressure on a former Collegiate star who competed in the second final at this level.
The Canadian fought well, facing only one break point in the entire match but losing the majority of the pivotal points to send Taylor over the top. After ten easy holds on both sides, Fritz saved a break point in game 11 and he fends off a set point at 5-6 in the tie break before claiming it 9-7 for a huge boost.
He had the momentum now that helped him to break Brayden at 15 at the start of the second set and make a big step towards the finish line, saving three break points in game six and bringing the match home after three easy holds that delivered the title for him.
* Rennes, France, €69,280+H (Indoor Hard) : Playing in the 19th Challenger final, Ricardas Berankis has won the tenth title thanks to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Antoine Hoang in an hour and 19 minutes. Ricardas failed to qualify for the main draw at the Australian Open but he switched the continents and the conditions in a great style, conquering the fifth indoor Challenger title and the first since St.
Brieuc last year, also in France. Hoang served at 73% although he couldn't draw much from that, struggling on both the first and second serve to drop more than 40% of the points in his games and give his serve away four times from seven opportunities he offered to Berankis.
On the other hand, the Lithuanian saved two out of three break points and he controlled the scoreboard all the time to seal the deal and move closer to the place in the top-100. Hoang was broken in the very first game of the match before pulling the break back in game six to level the score at 3-3.
Berankis stayed focused, securing another break in the next game and closing the set with a hold at 15 at 5-4. Ricardas raced into a 5-2 lead in set number two, saving two break points in the eighth game while serving for the win to celebrate the title and 90 points on his tally.
* Burnie, Australia, $54,160+H (Outdoor Hard): The 27-year-old Steven Diez has won the first Challenger title, beating another unseeded player Maverick Banes 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 20 minutes. Diez played much better on both the serve and return, winning a tight opener and never looking back after two breaks of serve suffered and more than half of the return points won.
Banes never found the rhythm in his games, getting broken six times and losing the second set in some 25 minutes to hand the triumph to his rival. The opening set offered no less than 14 break points and they stayed neck and neck until 5-5, with Diez failing to clinch the set on own serve in the tenth game.
Nonetheless, he broke for the third time a few minutes later and secured the opener with a hold at love in game 12 for a 7-5. He was the only player on the court in set number two, losing one point on serve and scoring three breaks in games one, three and seven to seal the deal and lift the trophy.
* Punta del Este, Uruguay, $54,160+H (Outdoor Clay) : The Brazilian Thiago Monteiro spent almost the entire 2018 outside the top-100 and he is eager to change that as soon as possible, claiming his second Challenger title after a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over the 11th seed Facundo Arguello in two hours and one minute.
Thiago played well in the service games, dropping 20 points in 13 service games and facing only two break points. Arguello broke him once to win the opening set although he couldn't stay on the winning course after that, giving his serve away twice in each of the last two sets to finish on the losing side.
At 2-2 in the second set, Monteiro won seven straight games to open a 3-0 gap in the third set, serving well in the remaining games and sealing the deal with a forehand winner in game nine to earn the trophy and 80 points. Final results:
* Newport Beach, USA, $162,480+H (Outdoor Hard) :
[1/WC]Taylor Fritz (USA) vs Brayden Schnur (CAN) 7-6(7) 6-4 [1:25]
* Rennes, France, €69,280+H (Indoor Hard) :
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) vs Antoine Hoang (FRA) 6-4 6-2 [1:19]
* Burnie, Australia, $54,160+H (Outdoor Hard):
Steven Diez (CAN) vs Maverick Banes (AUS) 7-5 6-1 [1:20]
* Punta del Este, Uruguay, $54,160+H (Outdoor Clay) :
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) vs Facundo Arguello (ARG) 3-6 6-2 6-3 [2:01]