Almost 160 Challenger tournaments had been staged in 2018 in 40 different countries, offering a chance for the lower-ranked players to fight for serious prize money and points that had opened the door for the best ones to crack the top-100 and secure their places in Grand Slam main draws.
As always after the inaugural 1978 season, Challengers provided some memorable runs and entertaining battles, with eight teenagers and 34&over players going all the way to lift the trophy, including Rudolf Molleker, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alex de Minaur, Ivo Karlovic, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo.
There were 34 different first-time winners and eight players who managed to win both Challenger and the ATP title, including Gael Monfils, Marco Cecchinato and Pablo Andujar. The ATP has announced the 2018 ATP Challenger Tour Tournaments of the Year award winners, giving the honor to Vancouver (Canada), Heilbronn (Germany) and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).
Staged at the Hollyburn Country Club under the guidance of Rik De Voest, Vancouver returned to the calendar in 2017 and it was an instant success, securing the Challenger of the Year award in both 2017 and 2018. A qualifier Daniel Evans won the title back in August, prevailing against Jason Kubler in the third set tie break after a great battle, and all the players were delighted with the facilities and all the features the tournament offered to them.
Established in 1892, the TC Heilbronn Trappensee E.V is one of the oldest remaining tennis clubs in the world, hosting the Neckarcup for the last four years and providing one of the best experiences for Challenger players on clay.
The 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker claimed the title last May to become the youngest Challenger champion of the season in front of the home crowd, beating Jiri Vesely in a tight final for his biggest win in a career so far. The Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico joined the Tour last year and they needed just one edition to establish their name among the best events in the calendar, with the top seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras becoming the first champion.