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ATP 250s Continue Producing Maiden Champions

Jiri Lehecka Wimbledon

Professional tennis appears to be experiencing a paradigm shift as the Big Three stranglehold on the sport begins to dwindle. While the last of them, Novak Djokovic, is still the player to beat on the big stage, the gap between him and the rest of the elite players is shrinking, as Janiik Sinner showed in Melbourne.

Andy Murray, the other player whose numbers were somewhat adjacent to the three gods, faces imminent retirement, leaving enough room for the elite players to rally their weapons as they attempt to force the Serb into immortality.

The cycle has inevitably freed up space in the less glamorous but equally crucial ATP 250 events. They’re receiving a breath of fresh air as the chokehold loosens. At this stage of the season last year, only Tallon Griekspoor secured a maiden tour title at the now-obsolete Maharashtra Open. Of the nine ATP 250 events held so far this year, five of them have seen new champions who secured their first tour-level title.

ATP 250 Maiden Winners Emerge

Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka set the ball rolling with a straight-sets defeat of Jack Draper to secure his maiden career title, denying the Englishman in his second final Down Under. The ASB Classic in neighboring Auckland also saw Chilean Alejandro Tabilo defeat Taro Daniel in straight sets to win his maiden title on tour. Both events were on hard courts.

The transition to the Golden Swing saw Facundo Diaz Acosta succeeding Carlos Alcaraz as the Argentina Open champion after he upset Nicolas Jarry in the final to win his first ATP title, while Italian youngster Luciano Darderi demolished Facundo Bagnis to take home the Cordoba title – his first.

The biggest cheer will perhaps go to Jordan Thompson, who was third-time lucky in an ATP final. The Australian had been the near man over the years, but he finally secured a career title, and he did it in style – defeating the top seed and world number No. 6 Alexander Zverev in the semis before cruising past favorite Casper Ruud in the final. It was a long-awaited win for Thompson, who had played brilliantly over the last few seasons.

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More Players Will Get on the 250 Train

Ironically, two other players could have secured their first title on tour but were frustrated by their compatriots. American Marcos Giron was within a match of ticking a career title off his bucket list, but Tommy Paul bested him in the Dallas final, while Sebastian Baez didn’t do Mariano Navone any favors in Rio.

After the current events are rounded up in Santiago, Acapulco, and Dubai, Masters 1000 tournaments will take center stage in Indian Wells and Miami. You’ll expect the big guns, including Novak Djokovic, to take the front seats.

The month of April, however, sports five ATP 250 events, and considering that the remaining nine months of the year still have twenty more of the series on the calendar, expect a few more events to birth players who’ll be hoisting their maiden titles.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane – USA TODAY Sports

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