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Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Navone and Tabilo Claim the First Set of European 175s

Alejandro Tabilo BNP Paribas Open-Day 6

It was the week of the so-called super-Challengers as the tour returned to Aix-en-Provence and Cagliari for more Challenger 175 action. Alejandro Tabilo and Mariano Navone claimed these extra high-profile titles, while two Aussies battled for the trophy in Guangzhou, and Daniel Dutra da Silva almost made history in Porto Alegre. Read back on last week’s action:

Challenger Tour Weekly Recap


Alejandro Tabilo was one of the best players on the Challenger Tour in 2023 with four titles and the Chilean also had the perfect start to the new season with his first ATP Tour trophy in Auckland. The Chilean returned to the secondary circuit of men’s tennis for the first time this year and instantly earned himself the chance to be the first player in 2024 to pick up titles at both levels. All of that came after surviving an extremely tough opener with Hugo Gaston 7-5 in the 3rd as well.

Jaume Munar made his first Challenger appearance of the season in Aix-en-Provence, having picked up at least one title each at this level every year since 2017. The Spaniard had to push through that extremely stacked draw and ended up beating two Top 50 players on the way to the final (Roman Safiullin and Tomas Martin Etcheverry). As Thursday was completely rained off, Munar had to win two matches in one day on Friday, including a three-setter against Alexandre Muller.

Munar had a sloppy start to both sets, hitting a couple of double faults in each opening game and being erratic on the groundstrokes. Perhaps on some other day, he’d be able to afford that, yet on Sunday, the Chilean was simply unforgiving. He not only never put a foot wrong on his serve but also was more consistent than Munar off the baseline. Tabilo claimed his 6th Challenger title 6-3 6-2 and is the 1st player to triumph on both the ATP Tour and the ATP Challenger Tour this year. Both finalists will be in the Rome ATP 1000 draw now, with the champion likely earning a seeding for Roland Garros with the points from this week.

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Mariano Navone has been on an incredible run in main tour events recently, making two finals in his last four appearances (Rio de Janeiro, Bucharest), throwing in another semifinal (Marrakech), and serving for the win against Holger Rune in Madrid. That surely made him one of the main contenders to win the title in Cagliari, but the Argentinian had to fight for it from the get-go. Especially Emilio Nava simply had him on the ropes at 4-1 in the deciding set.

Lorenzo Musetti hadn’t appeared in a Challenger since winning the title in Forli in 2022. The Italian once again showed up at home in Cagliari, but had to dig really deep to survive the quarterfinals against Nuno Borges (who recently beat him in Estoril). Looking out of it mentally for 8 games and already down a set and a break, the 22-year-old pulled off the comeback and extended his Challenger Tour win streak to 8 by the time he made the final.

The first set was an entertaining battle, although Musetti’s game plan seemed a little suspect. He gave Navone plenty of initiative and was sort of trying to test if the Argentinian would be comfortable controlling play. He was, despite some hiccups near the finish line. Taking that tight opener turned out to be the decisive moment of the match as Musetti went back to his mode from the start of the quarterfinal against Borges, looking pretty disinterested. Navone claimed his 6th Challenger title 7-5 6-1 and is now likely to be a seed at Roland Garros. Both finalists are now headed to Rome for the ATP 1000.

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Tristan Schoolkate had lost three Challenger semifinals since July (two of them to his compatriot Adam Walton), but managed to reach a milestone maiden final at this level in Guangzhou. The 23-year-old was coming off Shenzhen quarterfinals and almost fell at that stage again, beating Yu-Hsiou Hsu in a thriller. Due to rain, both the semifinals and the final were held on Sunday, with Schoolkate defeating Maxime Cressy to enter the biggest match of his career just two hours later.

The aforementioned Adam Walton turned out to be Schoolkate’s opponent again, although this time one round further. The 25-year-old was on a great run in Mexico (Morelos semifinals, Acapulco final, both losses to Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard) and kept it going in Guangzhou, despite being close to exiting the event a few times. Yi Zhou, Beibit Zhukayev, and Bu Yunchaokete all had their chances in three-set battles, but Walton stood strong to make his 4th final of the season.

The all-Australian battle ended up being pretty entertaining, especially compared to their last two matches, which both ended in easy victories for Walton. It was the favorite who had the tougher semifinal earlier that day, and perhaps that contributed to some of the uncharacteristic errors, but he was still punishing Schoolkate’s 2nd serve. The 23-year-old eventually went away from his usual big-hitting tactics and even drew out some errors with the slice in the 3rd set. Schoolkate won his maiden Challenger title 6-3 3-6 6-3 and will debut in the Top 200, he practically locked up a Wimbledon qualifying spot too. Just like in the Acapulco final, Walton could have found himself on the brink of entering the Top 100, but instead, he’s now 36 points away. Both finalists are in the draw in Wuxi this week.

Porto Alegre

Ergi Kirkin was one of the few players not from the Americas to travel to this Challenger 50 four-week swing, and it was working out decently before this event (Tucuman quarterfinal, Concepcion second round). The 25-year-old had made just two previous semifinals at this level but managed to turn things around with some wins in crazy circumstances here. Last week’s champion, Gonzalo Bueno, opened up a 3-1 lead against him in the deciding set, and Juan Bautista Torres went even further at 5-3.

Daniel Dutra da Silva got into this event as a lucky loser, and while he picked up an ITF title in March (the 26th of his career), it really didn’t seem like a big Challenger run was going to be on the cards. But the 35-year-old suddenly found form through an incredible win over Gonzalo Oliveira (from 0-4 and 2-5 down in the deciding set) and managed to secure his first final, being on the brink of totally smashing the record of the oldest first-time champion at this level.

Plenty of matches this week had to be moved indoors, and the final was no exception. While neither player is a big server, right from the start, it was clear that Kirkin could utilize these conditions a little bit better. Dutra da Silva tried to stay on top of the point and keep piling up the pressure but was just never really in his comfort zone. Kirkin claimed his 1st Challenger title 6-3 7-5 and reaches a career-high ranking with an outside chance of making Wimbledon qualifying if he keeps doing well. Both finalists will be in Santos this week, with Dutra da Silva receiving a special exemption to join the main draw.

Challenger Tour magic:

Events held this week:

  • Danube Upper Austria Open powered by SKE (Mauthausen, Challenger 100, clay)
  • Advantage Cars Prague Open 2024 by Sport-Technik Bohemia (Challenger 75, clay)
  • Internazionali di Tennis Francavilla al Mare (Challenger 75, clay)
  • Wuxi Open (Challenger 75, hard)
  • Santos Brasil Tennis Cup (Challenger 50, clay)

Top 100 players in action:

  • Francisco Comesana (Mauthausen)
  • Max Purcell (Wuxi)

First-round matches to watch:


  • (1) Francisco Comesana vs Joris De Loore
  • (6) Jozef Kovalik vs Vilius Gaubas


  • (1) Leandro Riedi vs Henri Squire
  • (WC) Jonas Forejtek vs (5) Benjamin Bonzi

Francavilla al Mare

  • Franco Agamenone vs (6) Stefano Travaglia
  • (5) Hugo Dellien vs Gianluca Mager


  • (7) Beibit Zhukayev vs Tung-Lin Wu
  • Philip Sekulic vs (9) Li Tu


  • Valerio Aboian vs (5) Alvaro Guillen Meza
  • (7) Adolfo Daniel Vallejo vs (WC) Karue Sell

Main Photo Credit: Jonathan Hui – USA TODAY Sports


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