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Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Vacherot Reigns in Nonthaburi Again, Riedi Back in Form

Clay-court tennis

Valentin Vacherot just cannot be stopped in Nonthaburi and managed to pick up another title. A Next-Gen final saw Leandro Riedi and Martin Damm battle for the Oeiras trophy, while former junior world #5 Gonzalo Bueno saved three match points on the way to his maiden win at this level. Here’s a look back at last week’s action:

Challenger Tour Weekly Recap


The king of Nonthaburi had no intent of slowing down after picking up a title at this venue both in 2022 and the week before, Vacherot made it to another final. The tough match came in the second round this time with Tennys Sandgren forcing him to grind out the win from 6-7 2-4 down. Such much-needed rest was granted to Vacherot in the final four though as Arthur Fery had to withdraw due to a right elbow issue.

Manuel Guinard was pretty unlucky to run into Vacherot in the qualifying of the first Nonthaburi event, losing 2-6 3-6. The Monegasque player ended up winning the title and his opponent had nothing to show for it, despite clearly being in good form given his performances last week. This time starting from the main draw, the 28-year-old didn’t drop a set on the way to the final and only required one tiebreak against Jason Jung in the second round.

Another Vacherot against Guinard was much more competitive, although mostly as the Frenchman was making it very hard for his opponent to close out sets. The steady pace and depth was a little too much and Guinard was constantly getting pushed back behind the baseline. The Monegasque player even showed some improvements to his point construction and eventually came out on top. Vacherot took his third Challenger title, all in Nonthaburi, 7-5 7-6 and broke the top 200. Both players were supposed to start the third event at the same venue from the qualifying, but both ended up withdrawing.


After a strong finish to the 2023 season, Damm showed he’s ready to continue progressing in the very first event of his next campaign. His draw featured many opponents who used to be higher-ranked but with injuries or age decline can’t quite reach that level again. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the quality anymore though and they were showing it for sure as Damm pulled off tough 7-5 in the third wins against Paul Jubb and Marius Copil.

Riedi was on the opposite trajectory compared to Damm at the end of last year, only picking up one win in his last 10 matches. Injury issues really stopped him in his tracks at the beginning of the season and then he never got fully back on his feet. But the potential remains in him and he was able to completely dominate the field in Oeiras, not dropping more than three games in a set on the way to the final. He also lost his serve just twice in the first four matches.

It was a fun Next Gen final as Damm seemed to have the upper hand early with his big lefty serve not allowing Riedi to have as much fun on return. The Swiss saved a set point at 5-6 in the tiebreak though and started finding a lot more good reactions against Damm’s first delivery, taking it as early as humanly possible, including a massive winner to take the opener. The American started feeling the fatigue from his previous matches a little bit and Riedi was able to lock up his third Challenger title 7-6 6-2. Both players are coming over to Tenerife now.

Buenos Aires

After spending half a year injured between October 2022 and March 2023, Dmitry Popko was struggling to make a proper return to the Challenger level with no quarterfinals since. He did finish the 2023 campaign 11-1 on the ITF Tour though and took that momentum straight to Buenos Aires. He dropped two sets on the way to the final (starting from the qualifying draw) with perhaps the most impressive win coming over junior world #1 Joao Fonseca in the semifinals.

Bueno was also looking for that breakthrough at this level (he made a semifinal in 2022, but then only one quarterfinal in 2023) with the Challenger 50 category providing him with a perfect opportunity. The former junior world #5 also started from the qualifying draw, coming back from a set down in his first two matches. He was actually much cleaner in the main event, taking out players like Renzo Olivo or Joao Lucas Reis da Silva.

This matchup wasn’t as comfortable for Popko as the Fonseca one. Bueno is much more all-rounded and making him play one more ball wasn’t going to enough. By the time he realized it and started firing back off the ground, he did have an edge. But some bad errors saw him fall 1-4 down in the third and despite recovering from that position and even having three match points, he was way too tense in the deciding tiebreak. Bueno claimed his maiden Challenger title 6-4 2-6 7-6 and made it to a career-high ranking of 322. Both finalists received a special exempt for the next event in Buenos Aires.

Events held this week:

  • Tenerife Challenger 1 (Challenger 100, hard)
  • Bangkok Open 3 (Nonthaburi, Challenger 75, hard)
  • Challenger AAT de TCA 2 (Buenos Aires, Challenger 50, clay)
  • Southern California Open (Indian Wells, Challenger 50, hard)

As this is the first week of the Australian Open, there will be no top 100 players in action.

First-round matches to watch:


  • (4) Brandon Nakashima vs (WC) Martin Landaluce
  • Abdullah Shelbayh vs (7) Otto Virtanen


  • (1) Duje Ajdukovic vs Stefano Travaglia
  • Billy Harris vs (2) Benjamin Hassan

Buenos Aires

  • (1/WC) Mariano Navone vs (SE) Gonzalo Bueno
  • Joao Fonseca vs (7) Edoardo Lavagno

Indian Wells

  • Vasek Pospisil vs Daniel Cukierman
  • Yshai Oliel vs (2) Marco Trungelliti

Main photo credit: Matthias Hauer/GEPA via USA TODAY Sports


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