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Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Kukushkin on a Roll, Majchrzak Back in Business

Kamil Majchrzak in action at an ATP Challenger event.

Mikhail Kukushkin is now on a 12-match win streak and after not grabbing a single title for almost 6 years, he managed to claim two in three wins. Kamil Majchrzak triumphed in Kigali to get back into the Top 500 just two months since returning from suspension, while Arthur Rinderknech and Joris De Loore battled in an incredible Lille final thriller.


Arthur Rinderknech was granted one of the worst opening draws imaginable at the Challenger level with the in-form Leandro Riedi. The Frenchman was able to give his opponent some much-needed rest after all the efforts recently though and stood strong despite his path never really easing up. He came back from a set down to beat Lucas Pouille and Billy Harris, before snapping the 8-match win streak of last week’s Pau champion Otto Virtanen in the semifinals.

Joris De Loore came into this event 2-6 for the year and just like Rinderknech, he had to face an extremely tough opponent right away. He managed to fend off his countryman and former Lille champion Zizou Bergs, despite his compatriot serving for the match in the third set. Tie-breaks were part of De Loore’s success this week as he went 4-0 in these scenarios, beating Titouan Droguet 7-6 7-6 and then eliminating Radu Albot in another deciding set.

The crowd in Lille received an evenly-matched, high-quality final, one of the first Sunday classics of the season. It all came down to the deciding tie-break and while Rinderknech had a chance to go up early but missed an overhead, it took them 18 points to finally produce a mini-break. The Frenchman saved two match points (serve-and-volley, forehand dropshot) and ended up taking his 6th Challenger title 6-4 3-6 7-6 with a brave forehand cross-court winner. The run forced him to withdraw from Indian Wells qualifying and he’ll start his US Swing in Phoenix, while De Loore is in the draw in Lugano this week.

New Delhi

Coleman Wong won just two matches in his first four appearances on the tour this year (excluding Davis Cup) and suffered a round-one exit to Felix Gill the week before New Delhi. The talented 19-year-old picked up his game here though, starting for a tough win over Sasikumar Mukund. He then received a walkover from last week’s Pune champion Valentin Vacherot, before defeating Tristan Schoolkate and Yuta Shimizu to make his third Challenger final.

Geoffrey Blancaneaux‘s form wasn’t any better going into the event and in fact he only managed to find one win in his first six events of the season. But sometimes all it takes is a doable draw and a few wins to boost your confidence. That first condition wasn’t even really met as after beating Moez Echargui in three sets in the opening round, Blancaneaux kept running into up-and-coming youngsters and putting them all away (Adam Walton, Philip Sekulic, Tristan Boyer).

Wong these days isn’t as focused on murdering every ball like when he made the Shenzhen/Playford finals last year, but it didn’t really increase his consistency in the final. Sometimes he would even grant his opponent too much freedom and allow him to play some opportunistic offense. Blancaneaux loves that sort of dynamic and was able to pick up his 2nd Challenger title (1st since 2021) 6-4 6-2, making his way back to Slam qualifying range. Wong took a special exempt for Lugano, while the next plans of the champion remain unclear and will especially depend on if he can make the main draw in Szekesfehervar in two weeks’ time (currently 10th alternate).


Matteo Gigante won the previous event in Tenerife and while some signs of fatigue were visible even early in the week (especially in the third set tie-break against Mitchell Krueger), getting a day-off definitely helped him to produce in the quarterfinals against Alejandro Moro Canas. The Italian seemed down and out in his final four matchup with Bu Yunchaokete though, going down a set and a break after about half an hour. But in a crazy twist, he managed to prevail saving five consecutive match points from 1-6 in the deciding set tie-break.

Mikhail Kukushkin managed to produce an even longer win streak by the time he made the final as besides recently claiming the Manama title, he also had to play in the qualifying draw here. The veteran was making it through the field pretty smoothly though and only Martin Landaluce provided him with a tough challenge in the final four. Kukushkin saved three break points at 3-4 0-40 in the decider and prevailed 7-6 with both players on the brink of exhaustion.

The first set was basically a repeat of the semifinal with Bu with Gigante really struggling to get his legs going and Kukushkin not feeling his semifinal with Landaluce almost at all. The Italian needed another insane comeback effort and just wasn’t able to provide it on the day, instead retiring at 2-6 0-2 as the fatigue from the last two weeks became too much. Kukushkin claimed his 16th Challenger title and returned to the Top 150 with 12 wins in a row. He takes a special exempt for Lugano, while Gigante will take some much-needed rest and play Zadar in a couple of weeks.


Kamil Majchrzak was suspended for 13 months due to a doping violation at the end of 2022 with the ITIA accepting that he didn’t knowingly ingest the prohibited substances. After missing out on a year of action, the Pole is back with a bang and he’s already won two ITF titles this year. By the time he made the Kigali final in his second Challenger appearance of the season, his win/loss record was up to 21-3. Only Max Houkes was able to take a set off Majchrzak on the way to the championship match.

Marco Trungelliti was seeking his first Challenger title in over 4,5 years in Kigali, having lost a few finals along the way including the last two editions of Santo Domingo. Just like Majchrzak, he only dropped one set on the way to Saturday’s championship match and also in the semifinals. Despite having to wrap up his last eight match against Nicholas David Ionel earlier that day, he still went on to defeat Stefan Kozlov from a set down.

It was going to be tough to stop Majchrzak on these courts without a big serve, but Trungelliti made a decent attempt. He was the attacking player in most of the rallies and the altitude definitely helped out his delivery.  But any potential concerns about the conditions making it tougher to stand out from the crowd were dismissed by the Pole much earlier in the week as he could really control his game way better than most. Majchrzak claimed his 5th Challenger title 6-4 6-4 and is already back inside the Top 500, two months since his return. Both finalists will be in the draw for the next Kigali event, although the champion has to start from the qualifying draw.

Events held this week:

  • Challenger Bolivia (Santa Cruz, Challenger 75, clay)
  • 4th Citta di Lugano (Challenger 75, indoor hard)
  • Rwanda Challenger 2 (Kigali, Challenger 50, clay)

There will be no Top 100 players in action (most of them are featuring at the ATP 1000 event in Indian Wells).

First-round matches to watch:

Santa Cruz

  • (3) Camilo Ugo Carabelli vs (WC) Adolfo Daniel Vallejo
  • Murkel Dellien vs (4) Hugo Dellien


  • Alexander Blockx vs (4) Leandro Riedi
  • Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs (6) Joris De Loore


  • Bogdan Bobrov vs (3) Calvin Hemery
  • Alafia Ayeni vs (2/WC) Aziz Dougaz


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