ATP Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: A Week of Resurgences

Oscar Otte was last week a beaten finalist on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Guido Andreozzi and Oscar Otte weren’t doing well at all prior to this week, although some of their matches suggested a change in their fortunes was coming. And so it proved: they both finished runner-up in Challenger events at Biella and Prague, respectively. Here’s a look back at what you might have missed:

ATP Challenger Tour Weekly Recap

Biella

2019 Campinas and Santo Domingo champion, Juan Pablo Varillas, had an awful campaign last season and didn’t start this season with a lot of confidence as a result. But a few good runs on South American soil (ATP Santiago QF, Santiago Challenger SF) saw him to go to Europe rejuvenated and ready to get back to his best. Varillas had to defeat Italian veteran Alessandro Giannessi right off the bat and then had to pull off a marathon 3h30min win over Dimitar Kuzmanov. But things only got easier as the tournament progressed and the Peruvian was able to impose his punching game on his opponents without that much trouble.

Speaking of terrible 2020 campaigns, Andreozzi couldn’t even play throughout that season due to recurring injuries. The Argentinian had won his first match in 16 months in Rome two weeks before and despite not getting the results, seemed to be finally finding his groove. That turned out completely right at Biella as Andreozzi qualified for the main draw and made a stunning run all the way to the final. The only ones to take a set off him were Tomas Marcelo Barrios Vera and Jay Clarke. The latter even held a 4-2 lead in the deciding set.

The final was a let down though as Varillas consistently got into Andreozzi’s service games, creating a total of 20 break point opportunities. Despite getting broken himself twice, the Peruvian only dropped four games on the way to his 3rd Challenger Tour title. Andreozzi’s serving struggles are best evidenced by just 38% in serve points won (19 out of 50). Varillas, meanwhile, find himself at a new career-high ranking of world #133 and should be seeded for the Roland Garros qualifying draw. In Zagreb next week, he opens his campaign against the fifth seed Pedro Sousa.

Prague

Otte hadn’t been past the second round at any event this year but finally managed to pull it together for a deep run at Prague. Facing an up-and-coming Czech teenager Jiri Lehecka, he got incredibly frustrated after dropping the second set. Perhaps that’s what made the difference in Otte’s game this week, though, the ability to reset mentally and barely have any dips in level towards the business part of the tournament. In the semifinals, he had to fend off another talented Czech youngster in Michael Vrbensky.

Tallon Griekspoor also hadn’t made headlines on the Challenger Tour in 2021 yet but he was able to secure a couple of second-round showings at ATP events and certainly couldn’t complain about his campaign thus far. The Dutchman was the runner-up at Prague Challenger last year and looked a man on a mission the whole week. Winning tie-break sets against last week’s Ostrava runner-up Renzo Olivo and top-seeded Norbert Gombos, that was the closest Griekspoor allowed anyone to even take a set off him.

The two finalists were absolutely killing the ball, each trying to stay on top of the other in the rallies. Having a huge serve came of help to Otte, who was able to put himself in winning position a couple of times. Yet up a break in set 2 and twice up a break in set 3, he always allowed Griekspoor a way back into the match. Ultimately, it turned out one time too many as the Dutchman reeled off the last four games to win the title.

Griekspoor was the runner-up to Aslan Karatsev at Prague last year, going one step further this time. He won his third ATP Challenger Tour title (Tampere 2018, Banja Luka 2019). Just like Biella champion Varillas, the Dutchman’s efforts have secured a career-high ranking  of 130. Interestingly, both Otte and Griekspoor Drew the top seeds at Heilbronn next week.

Challenger Tour magic:

If you thought Danilo Petrovic recently made the double fault of the year, here comes Oscar Otte in a brilliant attempt to surpass him:

Events held next week:

  • Heilbronner Neckarcup (Challenger 100, clay)
  • Zagreb Open (Challenger 80, clay)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Jiri Vesely, Yannick Hanfmann (Heilbronn)
  • Federico Coria, Pedro Martinez (Zagreb)

First-round matches to watch:

Heilbronn

  • (1) Jiri Vesely vs Oscar Otte
  • (7) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Cedrik-Marcel Stebe
  • Marc-Andrea Huesler vs Brandon Nakashima
  • Tallon Griekspoor vs (2/WC) Yannick Hanfmann)

Zagreb

  • Botic van de Zandschulp vs Michael Mmoh
  • Juan Pablo Varillas vs (5) Pedro Sousa
  • Kacper Zuk vs Jurij Rodionov

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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