ATP Challenger Tour: 2022 By The Numbers

Otto Virtanen was one of several first-time Challenger Tour champions in 2022.

A record 184 ATP Challenger Tour events were held in 2022. The circuit keeps growing with plenty of positive changes incoming next year. Before we had to the short Challenger off-season, here’s a bunch of stats and facts about what happened in 2022. Feel free to check out the previous editions of this piece about the years 2021, 2020, and 2019.

Tournaments by surface

  • 101 – Clay (including one indoor event in Maia)
  • 43 – Outdoor hard
  • 36 – Indoor hard
  • 3 – Grass
  • 1 – Carpet

The dominance of clay on the Challenger circuit started in 2021 when it accounted for 58% events. This year, it went down to 54%. Compared to 2021, there was one more event on grass with the pre-Wimbledon swing in the United Kingdom making a full comeback. Ismaning is now the only carpet Challenger left on the schedule as the tournament in Eckental was discontinued.

Number of events per country

  • 28 – Italy
  • 21 – United States
  • 18 – France

No surprises here as the top three remains the same as in 2021, although the United States managed to regain the second spot. Italy’s efforts to organize as many Challenger events as possible are definitely paying off when you look at how many NextGen players they currently have on the tour.

Titles won per country (singles)

  • 23 – Argentina
  • 22 – France
  • 16 – Italy
  • 12 – United States

The record previously stood at 20, held by Argentina (2007, 2016, 2021), and France (2005). Both countries eclipsed it this year with Argentinian players going 23-29 in finals, while the French were more efficient at 22-17. The incredible rise of the Italian youngsters allowed the country to double its title tally compared to last year.

Most titles won (singles)

  • 4 – Pedro Cachin, Jack Draper
  • 3 – Daniel Altmaier, Quentin Halys, Constant Lestienne, Luca Nardi, Ben Shelton, Yibing Wu

Last year, Tallon Griekspoor became the new record-holder in this category at 8, with Benjamin Bonzi and Sebastian Baez tying the previous best of 6 (previously held by Younes El Aynaoui, Juan Ignacio Chela, and Facundo Bagnis). This season proved how tough it will be to even tie Griekspoor’s achievement, especially as since the ATP Rankings returned to normal after the pandemic, there’s pretty much no way you win eight Challengers in the same year and still play on the ATP’s secondary circuit.

Most titles won (doubles)

  • 10 – Julian Cash, Henry Patten
  • 9 – Guillermo Duran
  • 7 – Guido Andreozzi, Albano Olivetti
  • 6 – Nicolas Barrientos, Saketh Myneni, Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, Cristian Rodriguez

Julian Cash and Henry Patten broke the record for the highest number of titles as a pair in a single season, previously held by Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana (won 8 in 2012). Guido Andreozzi was the only player who won at least four doubles titles this year and added a trophy in singles as well (a very unexpected one, which will be mentioned later in the article).

Most match wins (singles)

  • 43 – Quentin Halys
  • 40 – Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Constant Lestienne
  • 38 – Pedro Cachin, Emilio Gomez, Matteo Arnaldi

Tomas Martin Etcheverry came second in this stat in 2021 as well (49 to Benjamin Bonzi’s 50). Quentin Halys and Constant Lestienne had 30+ wins in a season before, but Pedro Cachin more than doubles his previous record of 17. Matteo Arnaldi had only played 12 main draw Challenger matches before this year.

Best win percentage (minimum 20 matches played)

  • 86% – Jack Draper (24-4)
  • 85% – Yibing Wu (23-4)
  • 81% –  Ben Shelton (35-8), Quentin Halys (43-10)

Not many surprises there. Ben Shelton made his way into the top 3 by ending the year on a 15-match win streak, while Quentin Halys was pretty much a beast all-year round and despite playing over 50 matches, still ended up with over 80%. Jack Draper and Yibing Wu played much more sporadically but were next to unstoppable with some of their losses also involving physical problems.

ATP Top 50 Singles Ranking Participation

  • 35 – Daniel Evans – Nottingham – Champion
  • 40 – Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Genoa – Quarterfinal (lost to Andrea Pellegrino)
  • 50 – Pedro Martinez – Braunschweig – R2 (lost to Zhizhen Zhang)
  • 50 – Dominic Thiem – Marbella – R1 (lost to Pedro Cachin)

Players this high-ranked are generally unable to compete in Challenger Tour events, unless granted a wildcard pre-approved by the ATP. Last year, top 50 competitors entered five events and the best result was only a quarterfinal (Dan Evans in Nottingham).

Finals Between Top Seeds (singles)

  • (2) Gianluca Mager over (1) Roberto Carballes Baena in Gran Canaria
  • (2) Mats Moraing over (1) Quentin Halys in Turin
  • (2) Quentin Halys over (1) Ricardas Berankis in Lille
  • (1) Tallon Griekspoor over (2) Roberto Carballes Baena in Amersfoort
  • (1) Jordan Thompson over (2) Emilio Gomez in Columbus
  • (2) Juan Pablo Varillas over (1) Facundo Bagnis in Sao Leopoldo

Top seeds went 4-0 in finals like that last year, but the second produced a solid effort to take it 4-2 in 2022. Carballes Baena was on the losing end twice, although once as each seed. Quentin Halys lost as top seed, but won as second seed.

Qualifier Champions

  • Antoine Bellier – San Luis Potosi
  • Evan Furness – Ostrava
  • Filip Misolic – Zagreb
  • Sergey Fomin – Shymkent (2)
  • Lukas Klein – Troisdorf
  • Zizou Bergs – Ilkley
  • Hamad Medjedovic – Luedenscheid
  • Raul Brancaccio – San Benedetto del Tronto
  • Valentin Vacherot – Nonthaburi (1)
  • Arthur Cazaux – Nonthaburi (2)
  • Kimmer Coppejans – Toulouse
  • Stuart Parker – Nonthaburi (3)
  • Nicolas Moreno de Alboran – Braga
  • Jan Choinski – Campinas
  • Li Tu – Seoul
  • Mattia Bellucci – St. Tropez
  • Tennys Sandgren – Las Vegas
  • Otto Virtanen – Bergamo
  • Seong-Chan Hong – Matsuyama
  • Leandro Riedi – Helsinki
  • Guido Andreozzi – Temuco

2021 had 6% of Challenger Tour champions start from the qualifying draw,  this percentage has doubled this year (22/183 finished events).  The wildest moment was definitely the three-week Nonthaburi Challenger 50 series, where all three events were won by qualifiers.

Wildcard Champions (singles)

  • Matteo Arnaldi – Francavilla al Mare
  • Lorenzo Musetti – Forli
  • Dan Evans – Nottingham
  • Borna Coric – Parma
  • Francesco Maestrelli – Verona
  • Gabriel Diallo – Granby

The first two would have gotten in on their ranking, but didn’t sign up. Dan Evans couldn’t compete without a wildcard as a top 50 player. The latter three actually needed it to enter the events. There were a few alternate champions as well, while Yibing Wu won Orlando on a protected ranking and Indianapolis on a special exempt.

Longest super tie-breaker – 19/17

Boris Arias and Federico Zeballos beat Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine and Brandon Walkin 6-4 4-6 19-17 in the quarterfinals at Pozoblanco. Interestingly, this was Bittoun Kouzmine’s only Challenger appearance of the year. The Bolivians saved four match points, eventually securing the key mini-break at 17-17 after a series of 19 straight points won on serve.

Double bagels (main draw only)

  • Camilo Ugo Carabelli over Gonzalo Achondo – Concepcion (1)
  • Matias Franco Descotte over Felipe Hernandez – Concepcion (1)
  • Bjorn Fratangelo over Mohammed Safwat – Savannah
  • Marco Cecchinato over Nicholas David Ionel – Luedenscheid
  • Gerald Melzer over Mateo Gomez – Cali
  • Kimmer Coppejans over Arthur Reymond – Troyes
  • Michael Mmoh over Alexander Bernard – Knoxville

5/7 came in Challengers played in the Americas, which tend to have high-quality seeds, but often lack depth. Marco Cecchinato over Nicholas David Ionel is probably the most surprising one here, especially as the Romanian had a pretty solid year with a semifinal in Sibiu. Mohammed Safwat won a Challenger at the beginning of 2020, but the double bagel really shows you how much he’s declined since (currently world #665). Kimmer Coppejans over Arthur Reymond is the only one that happened in R2 (rest R1).

One unfinished event – Charleston

#1 and #2 competing in a Challenger – Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic in Phoenix

The Arizona Tennis Classic is held during the second week of the Indian Wells Masters, which allows some players that usually don’t feature on the Challenger Tour to compete. This was taken to the extreme in 2022 as Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic, at the time world #1 and world #2 in the ATP Doubles Rankings, decided to seek form in Phoenix. They only managed a semifinal, losing to Oscar Otte and Jan-Lennard Struff.

Oldest singles champion this year – Fernando Verdasco

At 38 years and 3 months of age, Fernando Verdasco became the second oldest ATP Challenger Tour champion in Monterrey (Ivo Karlovic was sixteen months older when he won Calgary three years ago). No other player older than 32 won a title in singles in 2022.

Lowest-ranked singles champion since 2006 – Guido Andreozzi

Focusing more on doubles this year after some serious injuries, Guido Andreozzi was playing just his fifth singles event of 2022 in Temuco. Despite starting from the qualifying draw, he produced a brilliant run to take the title, winning his first Challenger since 2018. He was ranked 901 at the time, becoming the lowest-ranked champion since his compatriot Guillermo Canas, who was returning to the sport after over a year in Belem 2006 and did not have any points left.

Three titles in three weeks – Ben Shelton

Last year, this feat was managed by Benjamin Bonzi and Tallon Griekspoor. Ben Shelton’s achievement was more monumental though. It allowed him to win the USTA Australian Open Wildcard Challenge, break the top 100, and most importantly – he is the youngest player to ever win three Challenger events in three consecutive weeks.

Won an ATP Tour and an ATP Challenger Tour title in the same year

  • Francisco Cerundolo (Bastad ATP 250/Santa Cruz Challenger)
  • Borna Coric (Cincinnati ATP 1000/Parma Challenger)
  • Marc-Andrea Huesler (Sofia ATP 250/Mexico City Challenger and Aguascalientes Challenger)
  • Lorenzo Musetti (Hamburg ATP 500/Forli Challenger)
  • Yoshihito Nishioka (Seoul ATP 250/Columbus Challenger)
  • Holger Rune (Munich ATP 250, Stockholm ATP 250, and Paris ATP 1000/Sanremo Challenger)

Borna Coric used the Challenger Tour in his comeback, eventually securing the biggest title of his career just two months after triumphing in Parma. Marc-Andrea Huesler had a full-on breakthrough year and it all started with his brilliant performances on altitude clay in Mexico. Holger Rune won the only Challenger he competed in this year, Francisco Cerundolo and Lorenzo Musetti played in two.

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