Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Final Comebacks Everywhere

Ricardas Berankis Challenger Tour

All four ATP Challenger Tour events of the past week were held in Europe this time around. Ricardas Berankis and Alessandro Giannessi got back into the winners’ circle after a period of struggle, while Jurij Rodionov and Hugo Grenier just keep piling up Challenger titles in the last couple of years. Three of the four finals featured one of the players blowing a huge lead and a thrilling finish. Read back on last week’s action:


As the defending champion in Biel, Jurij Rodionov needed a big result to keep his ranking points. As it turned out, the 23-year-old did just that. The quarterfinal against Otto Virtanen was his third consecutive appearance at this stage of a Challenger, but this time he managed to get over that hurdle and stop the Finn from completing the Lugano/Biel double. Rodionov then took out Benjamin Hassan to make his first final since May.

Liam Broady had also won in Biel before, but in 2021. He didn’t play in the 2022 edition though so just like Rodionov, he was also unbeaten at this event. He managed to keep that streak going in the four matches he needed to get to the final. Not unlike his Austrian rival, Broady also had to push through some issues in the quarterfinals as he took out Gabriel Diallo from a set down. Therefore, the final featured two players with 9-0 win/loss records in Biel.

Sadly, the final ended up being anticlimactic as Broady seemed to be struggling with an issue with his hand/wrist area. After the opening set, he took a long medical time out and started slicing his forehand almost exclusively in the past few games. Rodionov took his 6th Challenger title after the Brit retired at 3-6 0-30 down. The champion is playing in Lille this week, while Broady is in the main draw at Girona, provided the injury doesn’t turn out to be too serious.


Ricardas Berankis won this event back in 2018 and a little out of nowhere, he managed to go on a huge run here again. The 32-year-old really needed that after a mediocre start to the season and an injury-ridden last year’s campaign. On the way to his first final in 12 months (literally 364 days since he lost to Quentin Halys in Lille), Berankis dropped a set to Kacper Zuk and Antoine Escoffier, but was clinical when it mattered and dominated the deciders.

Dan Added made his only previous Challenger semifinal in Vilnius last year, coincidentally beating Ricardas Berankis in the second round. This time he got to play the Lithuanian legend in his maiden championship match appearance on this circuit. To get there, Added needed to save a match point against Calvin Hemery, setting himself up for a +1 forehand and smash winner combination with a big serve. In the final four, he eliminated the resurgent Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Berankis was untouchable on serve in the first two sets, but missed two match points on return at 6-3 6-5. Added smelled blood and quickly capitalized, getting into a big lead in the decider. But the Lithuanian veteran wasn’t done yet and broke at 3-5 down to go into the final set tie-break, where he had the answers to all the questions posed by Added. Berankis claimed his 14th Challenger title (1st since August 2019) 6-3 6-7 7-6. Both finalists grabbed special exempt spots into the main draw at Lille.

Las Franquesas del Valles

28-year-old Billy Harris only started featuring on the Challenger Tour last year, getting to a quarterfinal in Nonthaburi. The Brit was only 4-7 in 2023 coming into this week, making the last eight stage but at an ITF event. But suddenly, Harris found some incredible form in Las Franquesas del Valles, winning six matches to make the final. In the final four, he had to battle Max Purcell and did the unthinkable, snapping the Australian’s 18-match win streak.

Hugo Grenier entered the event with just a 4-8 win/loss record for the year, not getting to a single quarterfinal. Seeded second, the Frenchman took advantage of a pretty nice draw, although it got much trickier by the time he reached the last eight stage. The 27-year-old was down a set to both Ivan Gakhov and then Bu Yunchaokete in the final four, but managed to prevail and never fall into any trouble on serve in the sets he won against each player.

Harris clearly enjoyed playing another big serve/grinder combination (after Purcell), especially as Grenier doesn’t have the wicked slice of the Australian. The better player for most of the match, the Brit led 5-2 in the decider, but a couple of loose forehand errors and two amazing volleys from his opponent allowed the Frenchman to break back and go into the tie-breaker with the momentum on his side. Grenier claimed his 4th Challenger title 3-6 6-1 7-6. The champion aims to play indoors in Lille this week, while Harris took a special exempt to join the main draw on clay in Sanremo.


Sebastian Ofner was the runner-up in Antalya two weeks earlier and kept that momentum going with another final in Zadar. The road wasn’t always easy as Nerman Fatic and Dragos Nicolae Madaras took him to a deciding set, the Swede was even briefly up by a set and a break. The 26-year-old knew he needed to step up and did just that in the quarterfinals and semifinals, taking out a couple of talented Italian youngsters – Matteo Gigante and Flavio Cobolli.

Alessandro Giannessi had already shown some signs of improvement after a pretty disastrous finish to his 2022 campaign, but he didn’t quite put it together until this week. On his way to the final in Zadar, he didn’t drop a single set and only required a couple of tie-breaks against Nino Serdarusic and Zsombor Piros. The 32-year-old got himself into his first championship match in almost a year (Oeiras 2022) by taking out the French youngster Arthur Cazaux.

It was a crazy final, although nothing seemed to point to that with Giannessi leading 4-0 40-0 on return in the deciding sets. Ofner came up with a few good points and produced the fightback, eventually even forcing the Italian to serve to stay in the match. It all ended in a thrilling tie-breaker after the Austrian saved a match point in the 12th game of the set. He struck first, but missed a reactive volley on top of the net on his only chance to take the title.

Giannessi won his 4th Challenger title 6-4 5-7 7-6, improving his record in finals at this level to 4-8. Both finalists are in the draw in Sanremo this week, the Italian as a special exempt.

Challenger Tour magic:

Events held this week:

  • Mexico City Open (Challenger 125, clay)
  • Sanremo Tennis Cup (Challenger 125, clay)
  • Play In Challenger (Lille, Challenger 100, indoor hard)
  • EuroFirms Girona – Costa Brava (Challenger 75, clay)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Marc-Andrea Huesler, Daniel Elahi Galan, Facundo Bagnis (Mexico City)
  • Juan Pablo Varillas, Marco Cecchinato (Sanremo)
  • Quentin Halys, Max Purcell (Lille)
  • Pedro Cachin, Jaume Munar (Girona)

First-round matches to watch:

Mexico City

  • (1) Marc-Andrea Huesler vs Facundo Mena
  • (WC) Bernard Tomic vs Thiago Agustin Tirante


  • Zsombor Piros vs (6) Matteo Arnaldi
  • (8) Giulio Zeppieri vs (SE) Alessandro Giannessi
  • Chun-Hsin Tseng vs (3) Alexander Shevchenko


  • Raphael Collignon vs (6) Benoit Paire
  • (5) Hugo Grenier vs Gabriel Diallo


  • (1) Pedro Cachin vs Gilles-Arnaud Bailly
  • Dalibor Svrcina vs (2/WC) Jaume Munar

Main Photo Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports


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