Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Junior No. 1 Schwaerzler Triumphs in Skopje

Clay-court tennis

Joel Schwaerzler, who’s the junior World No. 1 despite not playing a single junior match this year (yet), stole the show in Skopje by picking up his first Challenger Tour title. Meanwhile, Timofey Skatov won in Augsburg to show he managed to put the disappointment of not making Roland Garros qualifying behind him very quickly. The last Challenger champion for the week was Robin Bertrand, who beat Aleksandre Bakshi in an unexpected final between two players who were yet to post a single main draw win at this level before the event in Kachreti. Read back on last week’s action:

Challenger Tour Weekly Recap


Kamil Majchrzak returned to the tour after serving his suspension at the start of this season and had been in brilliant form right away, picking up a Challenger title in Kigali in March. It was a surprise when his trip to Asia didn’t work out with two qualifying losses, but the Pole got sick there and ended up choosing to return to Europe to heal up earlier than he was initially planning. It seems to have done the trick as he made the Skopje final right away. Jonas Forejtek and Ryan Seggerman were able to push him, but he won both deciding sets easily.

Joel Schwaerzler is the junior No. 1 despite not playing a single junior match since the end of the 2023 season (he won the 2023 ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Finals). The Jurgen Melzer protege is transitioning to the pros this year and has already been doing great on the Challenger circuit with quarterfinals in Tallahassee and Mauthausen. Skopje turned out to be the next breakthrough, but not before he came back from 5-7 2-5 down against Sergey Fomin in the opening round (saved 1 match point).

Any potential concerns about Schwaerzler holding up under pressure in his first final very quickly evaporated. Majchrzak was clearly bothered by some of the high topspin shots from the Austrian and the 18-year-old just kept using them more and more to set up opportunities to flatten out his next blow. Schwaerzler produced a very cohesive display and claimed his 1st Challenger Tour title 6-3 6-3. He jumps almost 300 positions in the rankings and will now enter the Top 400. Next up for him is Roland Garros juniors, while Majchrzak will be back in Prostejov after a week of rest.


Timofey Skatov was the top seed in Augsburg and a pretty sizeable favorite to claim the title. The Kazakh handled that pressure well and performed in all the key moments against Norbert Gombos and Toby Alex Kodat. Including this week, he made four semifinals in his last six Challenger events. Beating Daniel Masur in the semifinals, Skatov reached his first final since January 2023. Since the beginning of April, his win rate by the time he made the Augsburg final was 13-3.

Elmer Moller is an interesting Danish up-and-comer, who picked up five ITF titles across the past two years. This is the season where he’s trying to take it to Challenger level and thus far it’s with very good results as he’s made the quarterfinals in all four events played. But Augsburg was his first final appearance with Moller prevailing in deciding sets against experienced clay-courters Carlos Taberner and Riccardo Bonadio.

It was a pretty wild final with Moller’s amazing backhand and spectacular shotmaking often battling against his own unforced errors. Skatov was a lot more solid and tried to spread the court with the forehand whenever possible. The players totaled 17 breaks across 30 service games with the Kazakh eventually claiming his 2nd Challenger title 3-6 7-5 6-3, turning the disappointment of not making Roland Garros qualifying into something positive.  This also ensures he won’t miss out on Wimbledon qualifying next month. He intends to appear in Vicenza next week, while Moller is signed up for an ITF event in Kiseljak.


World No. 906 Aleksandre Bakshi had never played a single Challenger match before this week (not even in qualifying), but warmed up for this appearance with a 25K semifinal at the same venue. The Georgian made great use of his wild card and produced an inspired run with the help of the home crowd, including defeats handed to up-and-coming talents like Martyn Pawelski or Philip Sekulic (Kachreti top seed). Bakshi didn’t drop a set on the way to the final.

Robin Bertrand had picked up five ITF titles since the start of the 2022 season, but was yet to win a Challenger main draw match in 3 attempts. The 50 event in Kachreti provided him with a great opportunity, despite losing in the second round of the 25K ITF at the same venue the week before. Bertrand picked up quality wins over Egor Gerasimov (avenging his defeat from Lille earlier in the year) and Paul Jubb to make his maiden Challenger final.

Bertrand came out putting a lot of pressure on Bakshi’s shots right away and dominated the opening set, but Bakshi had more left and once again produced a crowd-inspired effort, starting to spread the court extremely well. Down 3-5 in the 3rd he played the perfect game to break back, but eventually succumbed a few games later despite some controversial line calls on match points going his way. Bertrand claimed his maiden Challenger title 6-1 3-6 7-5, staying strong mentally despite these umpiring errors. He intends to play the 15K in Monastir this week, while Bakshi’s plans remain unclear.

Events held this week:

  • UAMS Health Little Rock Open (Challenger 75, hard)
  • Trofeo FL Service – Citta di Vicenza (Challenger 75, clay)

With the first week of Roland Garros taking place at the same time, there will be no Top 100 players in action.

First-round matches to watch:

Little Rock

  • (3) Seong-chan Hong vs (WC) Murphy Cassone
  • (7) Ethan Quinn vs Nishesh Basavareddy


  • (1) Francesco Passaro vs Maxime Janvier
  • (4) Denis Yevseyev vs Chun-Hsin Tseng

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


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