Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: 17-Year-Old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia Wins a Title

While the world’s top players were playing the Western & Southern Open in New York, the Challenger Tour continued on European clay courts. Aslan Karatsev was the best player throughout both weeks in Prague and deservedly captured his first Challenger title in five years. In Trieste, it was Carlos Alcaraz Garfia showing yet another time that he might one of the best young prospects we’ve seen in a while.

Prague 2

Aslan Karatsev captured his second Challenger Tour title (Kazan 2015) with a win over Tallon Griekspoor. Karatsev was the runner-up at two events this year already (Bangkok and Prague). The Russian seemed tired after his last week’s success as he was almost down and out in the first round against Enzo Couacaud. However, Karatsev recovered from a double break deficit in the decider and got much more comfortable as the week went on. The quarterfinals were to see him play Stan Wawrinka again, in a repeat of last week’s final. However, the top seed pulled out before the match and left Karatsev a cleaner path (and some much-needed rest).

His championship match opponent was Tallon Griekspoor, who became the new Dutch No.1 with the runner-up showing. The quarterfinals saw him face Robin Haase, the holder of that title since February 16th, 2015 (it was Igor Sijsling’s before that). Griekspoor defeated Haase and it was exactly that win that allowed him to lock the Dutch No.1 on Monday. The final was a relatively tight affair but Griekspoor couldn’t get Karatsev to have to work hard on his service games. The Russian was broken just once and cruised to a 6-4 7-6 victory. Both Karatsev and Griekspoor will play in Ostrava next week, receiving special exempts from the tournaments. They will also make it to new career-high rankings on Monday: Karatsev to world No. 140 and Griekspoor to No. 149.

Hyeon Chung played for the first time since the pandemic break. It seems like the South Korean’s struggles are not yet over as he got stomped by Zdenek Kolar in a match where he held serve just once.

The Czechs had one of their representatives in the semis as Lukas Rosol pulled out a vintage run. Rosol won four deciding sets in a row, including over 2nd seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert and 9th seed Sebastian Ofner. He finally lost to Griekspoor in a match where he simply couldn’t force a decider.

Trieste

The final saw a battle of two qualifiers: Riccardo Bonadio and Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. Both players hadn’t even made a single Challenger Tour semifinal before this week. Famous for his beautiful one-handed backhand, Bonadio impressed with a comeback win against Maximilian Marterer in the quarterfinals.

Alcaraz was involved in a blockbuster semifinal against 18-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti. It was a match between the first player born in 2003 to reach a Challenger Tour semifinal and the first player born in 2002 to do so. The game was rollercoaster-like with the two teenagers massively dropping and increasing their level. Ultimately, it was the younger Alcaraz who prevailed 7-5 2-6 6-3. Musetti will have more to remember this week for a great win over top-seeded Alexei Popyrin.

Coming back to the final, it was Alcaraz who was off to a better start, breaking Bonadio in game nine to win the opening set. The youngster then had a small dip in his level of play but managed to recover well enough to win the championship match in straight sets 6-4 6-4. That victory sees the 17-year-old jump almost 100 ranking places and find himself on the verge of the cut for Roland Garros qualifying (he’ll almost definitely qualify after the withdrawals). It’s also a huge ranking leap for Bonadio, who will make his way to a new career-high of world no. 285. Both Alcaraz and Bonadio will be playing Cordenons Challenger next week.

Challenger Tour Magic:

A compilation of the best shots from Alcaraz-Musetti:

These weren’t the only crazy shots from the Italian this week:

Stan likes a running forehand too:

While there’s not much good stuff to say about Gulbis this week, the guy sure knows how to disguise a drop shot:

This one should be left without comment but let’s just say – Rosol still blaming others, but not himself. To quote Andy Murray – “no one likes you on the tour, everyone hates you”.

Events held next week:

  • Prosperita Open (Ostrava, Challenger 125)
  • Internazionali di Tennis del Friuli Venezia Giulia (Cordenons, Challenger 100)

As most of the world’s top players will be at the US Open, no top 100 players will be in action this week. Both events will feature 32 players singles draws, as opposed to both the Prague Challengers that had 48 spots.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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