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Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Navone Now the Leader in Most Titles Won in 2023

James Duckworth, who won his 13th Challenger title last week, in action.

Mariano Navone just can’t stop winning and he now edges ahead of Thiago Seyboth Wild with five Challenger titles this season. Kyrian Jacquet took his maiden trophy in Olbia, while the runner-up Flavio Cobolli did enough to secure his top 100 debut. Meanwhile, some veterans also ended up coming out on top with a 13th title for James Duckworth and a 10th for Illya Marchenko. Read back on last week’s action:

ATP Challenger Tour Weekly Recap


Jacquet made his maiden Challenger final in Blois earlier this year, but had only reached one quarterfinal since. Olbia turned out to be an even more career-changing event for him though with the 125 points on offer. He qualified for this tournament, but was forced to fight back from a set down against Vladyslav Orlov in main draw round one. The Frenchman eventually ended up scoring some high-quality wins over last week’s Malaga champion Ugo Blanchet and last week’s Bratislava runner-up Joris De Loore.

When Cobolli beat Constant Lestienne in the quarterfinals, his top 100 debut wasn’t secured yet. But due to some other results, he could enter the court against Alex Molcan with a free mind as it was mathematically safe by then. This week was his best-ever performance on hard courts with stunning wins over the aforementioned Lestienne and Molcan, but also Emilio Nava in the opening round. Before Olbia, he only had one other Challenger semifinal on this surface (2022 Ortisei).

Cobolli’s level wasn’t as sharp as in the previous two rounds from the get-go. This was another matchup where he needed to be aggressive and stay on top of the points, but Jacquet’s varied counter-punching was drawing errors from him effectively. The Italian crowd provided a bit of a boost in the second set, although it did feel like they were only delaying the inevitable. Jacquet won his maiden Challenger title 6-3 6-4 and will jump over a 100 ranking spots to just outside the top 200. Both finalists were supposed to play in Brest next week, but Cobolli withdrew.

Santa Fe

The decision to come to South America is paying off for Andrea Pellegrino, who made the semifinals in Campinas and lost in the second round in Buenos Aires. Santa Fe gave him an even bigger run, although he was helped out by a couple of retirements from Federico Coria and Jan Choinski. But Marco Trungelliti really made him work for it and the Italian was brilliant in his comfortable dismissal of Vit Kopriva in the final four. The 26-year-old made his eighth Challenger final, but first outside Europe.

Navone has been on an incredible run since June, claiming four Challenger titles. By the time he made the final in Santa Fe, he had won 14 of his last 15 matches. The scheduling also didn’t grant him much help with this week’s event finishing on Saturday (and that’s key as he was the champion in Buenos Aires six days earlier. Despite that, he kept going strong and even found it in himself to prevail in a couple of three-setters on the way to the final.

Pellegrino came up with a clinic of clean, aggressive ball-striking in the opening set. It took Navone a while to settle down, he was even briefly 3-6 0-2 down. The Argentinian got better and better as the match went on though, weathering the storm and taking more and more initiative himself. Navone claimed his fifth Challenger title 3-6 6-2 6-3 and is now the sole leader in most titles won on this circuit in 2023. He grabs a career-high ranking inside the top 130. He opted to withdraw from Curitiba next week, while Pellegrino will return to Europe and likely appear in Helsinki in a couple of weeks’ time.


Chak Lam Coleman Wong peaked at world #11 in the juniors, picking up two boys’ doubles Grand Slam titles (US Open 2021 and Australian Open 2022). The 19-year-old has been enjoying a breakout season on the ITF circuit with two titles, but was yet to score a Challenger main draw win. He took care of that in Shenzhen round one and then defeated the recent two-time Challenger champion Terence Atmane, before saving three match points to beat Tsung-Hao Huang in the quarterfinals.

Duckworth had already made three Challenger finals in 2023, but lost all of them (Burnie, Bangalore, Morelos). The Australian then wasn’t doing so hot for a few months though and fell down to World No. 144 in the ATP Rankings. Top-seeded in Shenzhen, he never dropped a set on the way to the final and only got broken twice. Especially impressive were his beatdowns over Li Tu (6-1 6-1) and Bu Yunchaokete (6-1 6-2).

Wong played with extreme aggression in the final, constantly trying to rush Duckworth and take the ball early. The problem was that he was miles away from the consistency required and the Australian also found some spectacular shots on the defense. Until 0-6 0-5 0-40 down, the youngster had just one game point. He managed to dig himself out of that hole and avoid a double bagel, but that was it. Duckworth won his 13th Challenger title (first in over two years) 6-0 6-1. Both finalists are heading to Playford right now, Wong as a special exempt.


Dennis Novak was the top seed in Hamburg and probably the favorite for the title given his recent efforts in Alicante (semifinal) and Bad Waltersdorf (final, led 6-1 4-0 and lost to Andrea Pellegrino). The Austrian had little issues with his first few opponents, despite having to neutralize the big serves of Marko Topo and Antoine Bellier. It was only Tristan Lamasine who pushed him on the way to the final and Novak had to come back from a 0-2 deficit in the deciding set (also saved multiple key break points at 3-4).

Marchenko is in the middle of a really solid season, flying somewhat under the radar and trying to push for a return to the Grand Slam qualifying stage at the Australian Open. The past couple of weeks have been a big step in that direction with the quarterfinal in Bratislava and now the run in Hamburg. Altug Celikbilek forced him to prevail in a deciding tie-break in the second round with Billy Harris coming one game away from the same feat in the semifinals.

Novak had lost to Marchenko just the week before in Bratislava, but was still regarded as the favorite when he was about to play him nin Hamburg. Despite that, he had a very disappointing final showing. The consistency off the ground wasn’t really there and he couldn’t convert any of his six break points. It was the Ukrainian who served better and was choosing his opportunities to attack well. Marchenko claimed his 10th Challenger title (10-8 final record) 6-2 6-3. Novak took a special exempt for Brest, while the champion will play in Ortisei.

Challenger Tour magic:

Events held this week:

  • Open Brest – Credit Agricole (Challenger 100, indoor hard)
  • Festval Challenger (Curitiba, Challenger 75, clay)
  • City of Playford Tennis International (Challenger 75, hard)
  • Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena (Ortisei, Challenger 50, indoor hard)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Richard Gasquet, Nuno Borges, Jaume Munar, Benjamin Bonzi, Constant Lestienne, Hugo Gaston, Liam Broady, Flavio Cobolli (Brest)
  • Juan Manuel Cerundolo (Curitiba)
  • Thanasi Kokkinakis, Rinky Hijikata, Taro Daniel (Playford)

First-round matches to watch:


  • (1) Richard Gasquet vs Brandon Nakashima
  • (WC) Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard vs Pavel Kotov
  • (7) Liam Broady vs Luca Nardi
  • (5) Constant Lestienne vs Otto Virtanen


  • Eduardo Ribeiro vs (5) Hugo Dellien
  • Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida vs (2) Thiago Tirante

Ribeiro and Dellien are meeting in the opening round of a Challenger for the third time in about a month. The Brazilian won in Bogota, but lost in Campinas.


  • Filip Peliwo vs (5) Marc Polmans
  • (7) Dane Sweeny vs Hiroki Moriya


  • (5) Mark Lajal vs Kacper Zuk
  • Maks Kasnikowski vs (2) Gauthier Onclin

Main photo credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports


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