Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Harris Goes Back-to-Back in Asia

Clay-court tennis

Lloyd Harris picked up ten wins in a row in Gwangju and Shenzhen, while Alejandro Moro Canas was the only maiden Challenger Tour winner this week in Rome. Damir Dzumhur pulled off an incredible comeback to take the Ostrava title, with Alexander Ritschard and Gonzalo Bueno earning the second trophies of their careers. Read back on last week’s action:

Challenger Tour Weekly Recap


Alejandro Moro Canas posted his first tour-level win in Munich two weeks ago, beating Dominic Thiem in the opening round. The Spaniard managed to turn that momentum into a big run in Rome, even if the draw wasn’t really comfortable with top seed Zsombor Piros right off the bat. After reaching three Challenger semifinals in 2023, the 23-year-old found a way to break new ground by defeating home crowd favorite Stefano Travaglia.

Vilius Gaubas has been looking for his Challenger breakthrough the last couple of months and the 19-year-old Lithuanian found the perfect opportunity in Rome. Coming from the qualifying draw, he dropped just one set in six matches on the way to the championship match, defeating 2-time Challenger runner-up this year Matteo Martineau. In the quarterfinals, he snapped the run of Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, who ended up being the winner of the USTA Roland Garros wildcard challenge.

Two maiden finalists is basically a guarantee of a nervy affair, and Gaubas definitely felt it more at the beginning. He produced a comeback from 1-4 15-40 down to even serve for the set at 5-4, but it was Moro Canas who eventually took the marathon, almost 80-minute opener. Unfortunately for the Lithuanian teenager, that basically decided the match with the Spaniard, who was so solid and physical with his grinding. Moro Canas claimed his 1st Challenger title 7-5 6-3 and will break the Top 200 when the new rankings are released after Madrid. Both players will now rest before returning to Mauthausen (Gaubas) and Prague (Moro Canas).


Damir Dzumhur won the Barletta Challenger at the beginning of April, but then struggled with his fitness in losses to Luka Mikrut and Carlos Taberner. About ten days away from the sport helped, though, and the veteran Bosnian hit back as the top seed in Ostrava, scraping past Enrico Dalla Valle in a tightly contested quarterfinal. Manuel Guinard gave Dzumhur a walkover in the final four as the 31-year-old reached his second Challenger final in the span of just four weeks.

Henri Squire picked up his maiden Challenger title in Hamburg in March and was trying to keep that momentum as most of the tour switched to clay courts. Drawing the second-seeded Gabriel Diallo right away certainly didn’t help, but he was able to take advantage of the Canadian’s lack of red clay experience and fight back from 0-2 down in the decider. As luck would have it, after defeating No. 2 seed Diallo in round one, he eventually had to face No. 1 seed Dzumhur for the title.

Squire had issues handling the wind early and received physio treatment on his neck at the beginning of the second, eventually picking himself up to take it to the decider. That one break at 5-4 seemed to have literally broken Dzumhur, who was all over the place until 1-5 in the 3rd. But the veteran was there to pick up the pieces when his opponent started feeling the nerves and many stunning dropshots and touch shots later, it was Dzumhur who got away with his 10th Challenger title 6-2 4-6 7-5, winning the last six games in a row. The champion withdrew from Cagliari qualifying and will be back for the Rome ATP 1000, while Squire should return to the tour after a week of rest at the Challenger in Prague.

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James Duckworth won one of the Challengers in Shenzhen in October, although it’s tough to compare these two as, due to heavy rain, 90% of his week’s event had to be moved indoors. That was no problem for the Australian top seed, who made the semifinals in Cleveland and the quarterfinals at the ATP 250 in Dallas earlier this year. The only opponent to push him on his way to the final was Mattia Bellucci, with Duckworth prevailing 7-6 in the third set.

Lloyd Harris won his first Challenger title in five years in Gwangju the week before Shenzhen and carried that momentum into the next event as well. The former World No. 31 was also troubled only at the quarterfinal stage, with Alibek Kachmazov taking him to a deciding set. Otherwise, the South African was barely dropping games and, counting both the Gwangju and Shenzhen runs, entered the final on a nine-match winning streak.

The final was once again held under the roof, but with both players liking indoor conditions, that didn’t give a clear edge to either player. What was did was Harris’s ridiculous serving day as he fired 14 aces on just 42 points on his delivery (winning 36 of them). Duckworth tried to keep up with baseline aggression but would only find himself struggling to find the court as he went at it a bit too much. Harris claimed his 10th win in a row and 5th Challenger title 6-3 6-3 and is now a little more than 100 points away from returning to the Top 100. Both finalists are scheduled to appear in Guangzhou next.


Alexander Ritschard played the entire Har-Tru swing in the United States, qualifying for the ATP 250 Houston and picking up a win or two in Sarasota or Tallahassee. All these solid results were just him building up toward Savannah, as the Swiss didn’t even drop a set on the way to the final, only needing one tie-break against Dmitry Popko. At the last eight stage, he avenged his recent three-hours loss to Calvin Hemery from Tallahassee.

Andres Andrade had never been past the second round at a Challenger but had some nice winning rhythm from the start of the season with three ITF finals (two of them on green clay in the States). After losing early to Federico Agustin Gomez in both Sarasota and Tallahassee, he came through the qualifying coming back from 2-4 down against Toby Alex Kodat, and that turned out to be the only set he dropped on the way to the final, including avenging the Gomez losses.

The power difference between the two had to be huge, but that was no problem for Andrade most of the week. Ritschard’s rarely as sharp and locked in as he was during this run, and that led to a pretty dominant display. The Ecuadorian had one final ace up his sleeve and broke back at 2-6 3-5 down, but it was to no avail. Ritschard broke back the next game and picked up his 3rd Challenger title 6-2 6-4 and will soon return to the Top 200. He’ll get a couple of weeks of rest now before returning to the tour in Oeiras, while Andrade intends to keep playing on green clay in the States (ITF events in Florida).

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Gonzalo Bueno won his maiden Challenger title at the beginning of the season in Buenos Aires, and while he made an ITF final since, at this level, he hadn’t been past the second round. This run wasn’t easy from the get-go either, with Nicolas Zanellato briefly going up a set and a break on the Peruvian in the opening round and especially the top seed Genaro Alberto Olivieri grabbing a 3-1 lead in the deciding set. The 20-year-old earned his chance to play for a Top 300 debut in the final.

Juan Pablo Ficovich made the final in Merida in March, but didn’t really use the altitude swing to his advantage with some tough draws (Thiago Agustin Tirante, Maxime Cressy x2). His Concepcion appearance almost ended in a disaster as he was 0-2 down in the deciding set to Guido Ivan Justo in the opening round. The 27-year-old survived, though, and later took a blockbuster quarterfinal against Juan Carlos Prado Angelo despite the Bolivian youngster serving for the match.

Ficovich went 3-0 up with some early aggression, but Bueno quickly turned it around. Especially when the first serve and the first few shots behind from the Argentinian were neutralized, it became clear that the youngster is simply a much more versatile baseliner. Bueno claimed his 2nd Challenger title 6-4 6-0, only dropping one game after the slow start. He’ll break the Top 300 when the rankings are updated after Madrid and puts himself in Next Gen Finals contention. He’ll play Porto Alegre next, while Ficovich gets a week of rest before playing in Europe in Francavilla al Mare.

Events held this week:

  • Open Aix Provence Credit Agricole (Aix-en-Provence, Challenger 175, clay)
  • Sardegna Open (Cagliari, Challenger 175, clay)
  • Guangzhou Nansha International Challenger (Challenger 75, hard)
  • Brasil Tennis Open (Porto Alegre, Challenger 50, clay)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Adrian Mannarino, Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Alejandro Tabilo, Roman Safiullin, Marcos Giron, Pedro Martinez, Alexander Shevchenko, Aleksandar Vukic, Emil Ruusuvuori, Jaume Munar, Arthur Rinderknech, Brandon Nakashima, Stan Wawrinka, Cristian Garin, Hugo Gaston, Francisco Comesana, Aleksandar Kovacevic (Aix-en-Provence)
  • Frances Tiafoe, Lorenzo Musetti, Mariano Navone, Christopher Eubanks, Lorenzo Sonego, Marton Fucsovics, Nuno Borges, Luciano Darderi, Daniel Altmaier, Alex Michelsen, Yoshihito Nishioka, Federico Coria, Taro Daniel, Daniel Elahi Galan, Fabio Fognini (Cagliari)
  • Max Purcell (Guangzhou)

First-round matches to watch:


  • (6) Pedro Martinez vs Brandon Nakashima
  • (ALT) David Goffin vs (7) Alexander Shevchenko


  • Thiago Agustin Tirante vs (8) Luciano Darderi
  • (6) Marton Fucsovics vs (WC) Giulio Zeppieri


  • (4) Lloyd Harris vs Coleman Wong
  • (WC) Yi Zhou vs (3) Adam Walton

Porto Alegre

  • (7) Alvaro Guillen Meza vs Gonzalo Bueno
  • (ALT) Juan Bautista Torres vs (WC) Guilherme Clezar

Clezar hasn’t played since 2022, when he retired to pursue a career in finances, but will play a farewell event in Porto Alegre.

Main Photo Credit: Matthias Hauer/GEPA via USA TODAY Sports


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