Kyle Edmund makes winning return. Bublik and Kwon claim titles


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Kyle Edmund makes winning return. Bublik and Kwon claim titles

* Indian Wells, USA, $162,480+H (Outdoor Hard) : Despite an excellent finish of 2018 season, Kyle Edmund was unable to start the current year from where he would have loved it, struggling with a knee injury since the last fall and losing both matches he played in Brisbane and Australian Open.

After suitable rest, Kyle decided to enter high-quality Indian Wells Challenger, returning to that level for the first time since Rome 2016 and winning the third consecutive Challenger crown with five wins in five days. Yannick Madden and Lloyd Harris both managed to take a set away from him but the Briton advanced into the final where he ousted the 7th seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2 in 54 minutes for his sixth Challenger crown and the 15th consecutive win at this level.

Kyle proved to be too strong for Andrey in every department, dropping only eight points on serve and never facing a break point. On the other hand, he controlled the pace with a strong performance on the return, stealing 44% of the points behind Andrey's initial shot and breaking the Russian three times to seal the deal in less than an hour.

Edmund settled into a nice rhythm right from the start, serving well and breaking Andrey in game four for a 6-3. Rublev lacked the power in his serve and groundstrokes to challenge the better-ranked rival in set number two as well, suffering breaks in games one and five before Kyle sealed the deal with a hold at love at 5-2 for a much-needed title and 125 points that will boost his confidence ahead of Indian Wells Masters 1000 event that starts this week.

* Pau, France, €69,280+H (Indoor Hard) : The 21-year-old Alexander Bublik is yet to experience the first loss in Challenger finals, defeating Norbert Gombos 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 44 minutes for the fifth title at this level and second of the season, both indoor.

Bublik fired 13 aces and saved three out of four break points, losing serve once but erasing that deficit with three breaks from nine chances he created on the return, finding the range after the opening set and marching towards the finish line to lift the trophy.

Both players had their chances earlier in the first set before Gombos claimed three straight games from 4-5 to seal the opener 7-5. Alexander raised his level on serve in set number two and Norbert was unable to stay on that course, suffering a break in the sixth game before Bublik secured the set with a hold at love at 5-3.

From 3-2 down in the decider, the youngster rattled off the last four games, breaking the Slovak for the second time in game nine to wrap up the win and celebrate the title. * Yokohama, Japan, $54,160+H (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old Korean Soonwoo Kwon claimed the first Challenger title in Yokohama, winning all five matches in straight sets and going all the way after a 7-6, 6-3 triumph against Oscar Otte in an hour and 15 minutes.

The youngster defended both the first and second serve efficiently, never facing a break point and creating four chances on the return. Otte stayed unbroken in the opening set after saving two break points at 5-5 although he lost the tie break 7-4 after losing the opening five points.

The second set produced eight good holds and one loose service game that cost Otte dearly, getting broke in game six and allowing Kwon to cement the title with a commanding service game at 5-3 for the most significant result in a career so far.