Week 38 on the ATP Challenger Tour saw a new champion being crowned in Columbus and the renaissance of a 30-year-old Ukrainian but the headlines belong to a pair of German’s whose talent few can doubt.
Matthias Bachinger captured his first Challenger title since 2011 in Gwangju when he staved off the threat of world number 412 Tsung-hua Yang, 6-3, 6-4, in the final.
The unseeded German claimed scalps over the sixth-seeded Yasutaka Uchiyama and the rising youngster Duckhee Lee en route to his fourth career title and he was mightily impressive against the latter in the quarterfinals. Bachinger will rocket up 64 places in the world rankings from 269 with the success.
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe’s magnificent 2017 continued as the 26-year-old recorded his third title of the year on the clay of Sibiu.
The 26-year-old bulldozed the Spaniard Carlos Taberner, 6-3, 6-3, in the final after dismantling his countryman and last week’s Banja Luka champion Maximillian Marterer in the semifinals for the loss of only three games.
Equally as impressive was Stebe’s rally from a set down in the opening round against the dangerous Inigo Cervantes. The German surrendered the opening frame 6-2 but roared back to triumph, 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2. It also marks the German’s third title on clay and he is now closing in on his career high ranking of 71 achieved back in 2012.
Marchenko tastes victory, Croatian fighting spirit
It was a battle of the veterans in the final of the Izmir Cup as Illya Marchenko squared off against Stephane Robert. The 37-year-old Frenchman upset the fourth-seeded Matteo Berrettini in straight sets in the quarterfinals but he was disarmed by Marchenko when it mattered.
The Ukrainian took a closely fought opening set via a tie-break before trouncing Robert in set two, 7-6(2), 6-0, to end a year-long trophy drought. He prevailed in the battle of the Ukrainian’s with Sergiy Stakhovsky in round two and was aided by the shock first round exit of Malek Jaziri.
The Tunisian was eyeing back-to-back titles in Turkey but he was dumped out in straight sets by Karim-Mohamed Maamoun after losing the opening set tie-break.
Lastly, Ante Pavic ended his wait for a Challenger title with a 6-7(11), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Great Britain’s Alexander Ward in the final in Columbus. Pavic, playing as an alternate, rallied from a set and a break down to register his first singles title since a Futures event in Nigeria in 2013.
The Croatian knocked off eighth-seed Christian Garin in the opening round, 6-4, 6-3, and the manner of his final victory bore similarities to his comeback victory in the quarterfinals against Filip Peliwo.
Ward, however, will reflect on a positive week after he ousted the American Dennis Novikov – conqueror of top-seed Quentin Halys -- for the loss of only four games in the semifinals.