Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Giron = Grid-iron !! smile

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Arvis,
Why do you think Tauson will do better than Lopatetska?

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Whack-a-check???
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVYT2OJyhBw

Last edited by dwightcharles (Apr. 1, 2019 4:10pm)

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

dwightcharles wrote:

Arvis,
Why do you think Tauson will do better than Lopatetska?

I don't have much concrete to form that conclusion, but Tauson winning a W60 seems to signal that she's playing much better than her ranking right now.  And, as I mentioned, her commitment and work ethic are amazing for one so young.

Dasha, otoh, has won three titles in this year alone, but all W25s.  Not sure how well she would perform at the W60 level.  We'll see.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Apologies all for not getting the Challenger Chat update out this week, been busy at work and pretty distracted.  I'll try to do an extra long one Monday!

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Weeks 13 & 14
Men's

Marbella, Spain (80)
The #2 seed defeated the #1 seed here in the final.  You think you'll recognize the names?  Probably: it was Pablo Andujar (33, #70, Spain) defeating Benoit Paire for the title here.  This tournament really was like the Top 2 Seeds Plus Everyone Else, so props to these guys for staying the course and making the final against the rest of the field.  Since I missed last week, you may actually see Andujar's name come up again in this very same post...
One VERY weird note: Andujar's first match here came against Jurgen Melzer.  Yes, THAT Jurgen Melzer.  Is he back?  He's 37 now and hasn't played any singles at all in 2019 until this tournament.  Curious what the story is there. 

Saint-Brieuc, France (80)
Another indoor hard court challenger in France.  So... Gregoire Barrere again?  Ricardas Berankis with another dominant run?  Nope!  But both of those guys lost to the player who did eventually claim the trophy: Poland's hot new kid Kamil Majchrzak (23, #131).  If you recall, this is the same guy who was mentioned before in this thread back in January, and he made noise at the Australian Open when he won the first 2 sets off Kei Nishikori before his conditioning let him down.

Monterrey, Mexico (125)
Alexander "Sasha" Bublik (21, #99, Kazakhstan) really just does not feel like slowing down.  He came into this tourney as the #7 seed, defeated #1 seed Tennys Sandgren in a 3rd set TB in the SFs, then defeated Emilio Gomez in the final 3 and 2.  This is his 2nd title in 4 weeks and he's won 13 of his last 14 matches, with the one loss being a competitive one to Nick Kyrgios in R2 of Miami.  It's his 3rd Challenger title of the year!  Gotta think that Tour titles will be coming for this young gun.

Sophia-Antipolis, France (90)
Quite a lot of high ranking players entered this one, presumably in order to get some clay under their feet.  So who took the title?  #1 seed Herbert?  #2 seed Haase?  Nope, neither of those.  Filip Krajinovic is here as the #5 seed and he's been playing well!  But even he didn't win it, although he was runner up.  The winner was.... German grass-courter Dustin Brown (34, #167)??  What?
I'm not going to type anything more about this, just please please watch this short video to see how "Dreddy" pulled this off:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-QlNRR5rvk

Alicante, Spain (80)
Known as the "Juan Carlos Ferrero Open", you'd think it would be worth more than 80 points, being named after a guy who once scored 2000 points in a single tournament.
Anyway, he's been mentioned once already, but Pablo Andujar (33, #70, Spain) followed up his win in Marbella with a title run here as well, getting him a 10 match win streak and a 13-2 record on clay for 2019.  He defeated Pedro Martinez Portero (21, #140, Spain) in the final.

---

Women's

Palm Harbor, Florida, USA (80)
Our biggest women's tournament of the two weeks, the local crowd was a match away from being treated to a tournament victory by American Nicole Gibbs (26, #113), who even beat the previous week's Campinas champ (see below) in the SFs.  However, Gibbs' opponent in the final, Barbora Krejcikova (23, #156, Czech) absolutely annihilated her in the final, delivering a bagel and a breadstick and taking the air right out of the tournament.  This is Krejcikova's biggest career title by far and gained her quite a lot of ranking spots.

Croissy-Beaubourg, France (60)
The #1 seed here was a name you'll recognize from her two previous titles reported in this thread: Vitalia Diatchenko (28, #95, Russia).  This makes her 3rd title of 2019 and she won it rather impressively, only being taken to 3 sets twice (by Julie "Ricky" Gervais and Maryna Zanevska) and defeating American journeywoman Robin Anderson (25, #200) in the final, 2 and 3.  And you might be seeing Diatchenko's name come up again in this post...

Canberra, Australia (25)
It was an all Aussie final for the home crowd here.  Priscilla Hon was the #1 seed here and she dominated all the way to final without dropping a set.  However, she was surprised to find that she couldn't handle a fierce onslaught from an unseeded Olivia Rogowska (27, #239, Australia), who was once 2 spots away from being a Top 100 player.  This ends a 2-year long title drought for Rogowska, whose last trophy was in.... Canberra, in 2017.  She really enjoys playing here!

Campinas, Brazil (25)
The winner here is a former Top 50 player who is now at #141 in the world, Danka Kovinic (24, Montenegro).  Although she's had a rough couple of years, this title might be a sign that she's ready to get back to playing Tour level ball.  This is her first title since 2016.

Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy (25)
Because we're obligated to talk about Swiss players every week in this thread, our winner here was Jil-Belen Teichmann (21, #152, Switzerland), the #4 seed of this tournament.  She's a true clay court specialist, winning 2/3rds of all her career matches on the surface, but with an under 50% win record on all others surfaces.
She defeated Slovenian teen Kaja Juvan (18, #160) in the final, but a week later these two who have themselves a little rematch...

Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy (25)
This city hosted two W25s in back to back weeks, with Teichmann and Juvan both playing in this second one.  Those two would meet in the SFs, with Kaja Juvan (18, #160, Slovenia) getting a revenge win in 3 sets.  Juvan would go on to win the title when her opponent in the final, former Top 60 player Alexandra Cadantu (28, Romania, #238), retired with injury 1-6, 0-3 down.

Kofu, Japan (25)
Our 2nd tournament here, this was one of those W25s that kind of just blew up early, with only the #4 and #5 seeds even making it to the QFs, but no further.  Of the four unseeded players in the SFs, Giulia Gatto-Monticone (31, #173, Italy) and Lara Salden (20, #469, Belgium) were the ones to make the Final.  And although Salden had played very well, the disparity in rank became apparent in the final, with the Italian coming through with the loss of only 3 games.  This is GGM's 4th W25 title of her career and she is now at her highest ever ranking.  Not bad at 31 years of age!

Bolton, Great Britain (25)
And here we have Vitalia Diatchenko (28, #95, Russia) again!  Although she had just won a W60, she stayed committed to this W25 and won it without dropping a set.  In fact, she played no TBs and was pushed to a 7-5 set only once, by Maja Chwalinska (17, #323, Poland).  Diatchenko's victim in the final here, who she beat 2 and 2, was a "home favorite" Qualifier, Jodie Anna Burrage (19, #334, Britain).

Kashiwa, Japan (25)
Young Daria Snigur (17, #???, Ukraine) entered this tournament with a 5-0 record in 2019 pro matches, having won a W15 in Week 10.  Surely she couldn't do the same in a W25, with barely any experience under her belt, right?  Well, in the first set of her first match, she got bageled, so that would seem to be the case.  However, she decided after that bagel that she just wasn't going to lose any more sets and yes, she won the entire tournament.  Holy crap!  She is now undefeated in her last four pro tournaments in a row!!
She defeated #1 seed Jang Su-Jeong in R2 and former Top 40 player Rebecca Marino in the final.  This is an extremely legit win.  Big things in store for this kid.

Obidos, Portugal (25)
Showing promise in Croissy-Beaubourg the week before (see above), Maryna Zanevska (25, #242, Belgium) took that momentum into this tournament and won it as the #5 seed.  This is her first title of the year.  Can she get back to knocking on the door of the Top 100, like she did in the past?

Jackson, Mississippi, USA (25)
There weren't many high-ranked players in this one, but despite that we had a final between the #1 seed Katarzyna Kawa (26, #261, Poland) and #2 seed Ann Li (18, #276, USA).  I have a soft spot for Ann Li from her impressive battle against my precious Claire Liu in the 2017 Wimby Juniors final, but unfortunately she wasn't able to get over the line here and get her 2nd career pro title.  Kawa defeated her handily, having literally hundreds more matches of experience on the surface and an almost 60% career win rate on it as well.  This makes the 4th career W25 title for the Pole.

W15 Champs for Weeks 13 & 14
- Ipek Soylu (22, #522, Turkey), former world #151, won a W15 title in both Weeks 13 & 14, first titles since 2015.
- Corinna Dentoni (29, #???, Italy), former world #132, won as a Qualifier, first title since 2015.
- Montserrat Gonzalez (24, #460, Paraguay), 11th career title, #2 Paraguayan behind Veronica Cepede Royg.
- Daria Lodikova (22, #701, Russia), 4th career title, was runner-up in Weeks 11 & 12 (Ls to Vicens Mas & Helgo).
- Seone Mendez (19, #512, Australia), 5th career title, 2nd in a row in 2019 (see Week 12), now 10-1 on clay for the year.
- Camilla Scala (24, #679, Italy), 4th career title, runner up to Victoria Kan in Week 8.
- Nika Radisic (19, #???, Slovenia), 1st career title!  Defeated Yuki Naito (18, #624, Japan, winner in Week 6) in 3rd set TB.

---

Where Are Week 12's Champs Now?
- Gregoire Barrere lost in Saint-Brieuc to eventual champ Kamil Majchrzak (see above), and then lost in qualies of Marrakech.
- Destanee Aiava qualified for Charleston and then lost 3-0 in R1 to Belinda Bencic.
- Jasmine Paolini lost in QF of Campinas, R1 of Palm Harbor, but now has qualified for WTA 280 Bogota and won her R1 match today.
- Lee Hua Chen retired with injury to eventual champ Katarzyna Kawa in QF of Jackson (see above).
- Seone Mendez won another W15 (see above).
- Clara Tauson handled the transition to clay perfectly, qualifying for WTA 280 Lugano easily, dropping only 9 total games in two Q matches.  Those were Tauson's 11th and 12th pro clay matches of her career.  She is still undefeated outside of Fed Cup this year.  If you get a chance to watch her play this week, please do so!
- Paige Hourigan lost in SFs of a W15 in Week 13, DNP Week 14, currently a win away from qualifying for a W25 this week.
- Mirjam Bjorklund lost in R2 of Obidos W25.

Last edited by Arvis (Apr. 8, 2019 3:37pm)

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Thanks Arvis. Brown's drop-shots are amazing.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Great work Arvis!

2018 - Princess Leia Champ
2017 - Rey Saber Champ, Padme Champ, Obi Wan R-Up, BIG 5 Career Slam, Yoda Crew Hall Of Fame 2016 - Padme Runner-Up
2015 - Obi Wan Master, King Droid, Yoda Crew POTY 2014 - Guru Race Runner-Up
2013 - Guru Race Winner (2014 Yoda Cup Guru), US Open Yoda Cup, Yoda Crew POTY 2012 - Lord Vader 2011 - Wimbledon Yoda Cup

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Thanks Arvis. Will,be looking out for. Clara Tauson!

2016:-Diamond Droid and Captain Plasma Helmet Champ.
2018:-Ruby Droid and Jar Jar Dartboard Champ.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Is it possible to speak of a barrage of drop shots?? two that bounced back to his side...
Ridiculous!!

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

tenedab wrote:

Thanks Arvis. Brown's drop-shots are amazing.

dwightcharles wrote:

Is it possible to speak of a barrage of drop shots?? two that bounced back to his side...
Ridiculous!!

RIGHT??

That one where he was way behind the baseline and running... my goodness.  He's 34 so I don't expect much in the future from him, but if he's playing like this on clay, I have to wonder if he's ready to make some noise on grass this year.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Week 15
Men's

Taipei, Taiwan (125)
A huge (and shocking) ranking points payday for Austrian journeyman Dennis "The Other" Novak (25, #122)!  He was the #11 seed here, but his 2019 record coming in was a dismal 2-7, with his most recent match being a straight sets loss to Antoine Hoang.  So for him to come in and utterly dominate this tournament was very surprising indeed.  He only dropped one set in 5 matches, a close TB loss to unseeded Kaichi Uchida (24, #243, japan).  He even dominated talented veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky in the final, 2 and 4.  Even more surprising is that this is Novak's first ever Challenger title and he is now at his highest career ranking.

Barletta, Italy (80)
2019 has been a lucky year for Gianluca Mager (24, #144, Italy)!  Back on page 1 of this thread, in January, he won an indoor hard court tournament in Koblenz, his first ever Challenger title.  Now, he's won this Barletta Challenger on outdoor clay!  Impressive court versatility from the journeyman, who is now at his highest career ranking.  But why do I say he's been "lucky"?  Because in Koblenz he was 1 or 2 points from losing the final in straights and then his opponent fell apart, essentially gifting Mager the title.  And now here, not only did Mager get a W/O in R4, but his opponent in the final, Nikola Milojevic (23, #164, Serbia) retired with injury in the 3rd set, literally gifting Mager the title!  I'm sure there are many Challenger players without titles who are looking at Mager's 2019 campaign with irritation.

Murcia, Spain (80)
For a tournament with relative nobody Pedro Sousa as it's #1 seed, you wouldn't think the final would be a "blockbuster", at least in Challenger terms, would you?  And yet I'd say this one is worthy of the name, as talented Spanish clay courter and former World #72 Roberto Carballes Baena (26, #103) gamely defeated hot young Swede Mikael Ymer (20, #176) in three sets in the final.  Ymer was attempting to get his second title of the year, but instead RCB got his first.  Ymer won the first set of the final 6-2, but then completely lost the plot, winning only two more games for the remainder of the match.
Both players will be ones to watch in qualies over this clay court season.

---

Istanbul, Turkey (60)
Hey, look!  It's Vitalia Diatchenko (28, #73, Russia) again!  She's been all over the Challenger Chat thread this year and she's won yet another big title, not letting the pressure of being the #1 seed get to her.  This makes three titles in a row for the Russian veteran.  Three!  And her 5th of 2019!  Since losing in QR1 of Miami (to Muchova) she has won her last 15 matches!  Croissy-Beaubourg and Bolton were both indoor, but this one was outdoor, and you'd think the transition might be tricky, especially considering her indoor record this year is 21-2 while her outdoor hard record before this was a dismal 2-3.  But if anything, she played BETTER here than she has in her last two tourney wins!  Diatchenko absolutely slaughtered her competition here, dropping only 12 games the entire tournament and delivering 5 total bagels to her opponents, including one in the final!  The only player she faced here that didn't eat a bagel was Fatma Al-Nabhani (27, #412, Oman) in R1, and she still had a breadstick to eat.
Ankita Raina (26, #180, India) was the runner-up here, looking for her 2nd title of the year.  She did take 4 games off Diatchenko in the 1st set, the most games Diatchenko lost in a set this tourney.  It's time for us to watch out for Diatchenko on the Tour level now.  Unfortunately for her, it's the clay season, so she's getting hot at exactly the wrong time.  Will she be able to keep playing this well on other surfaces?

Calvi, France (25+)
Having already won two W15s this year, Anastasiya Komardina (21, #477, Russia) stormed through this draw unseeded, taking the title with the loss of only one set (to recent W15 champ, Lou Brouleau (23, #699, France)).  This is Komardina's first title at this level in 3 years, having won her two other career W25 titles back in 2016.  Although her ranking is 300 places before what it once was, she's still very young!  Might she get back into the Top 200 soon?
Runner-up here was #6 seed Audrey Albie (24, #316, France) who defeated #1 seed Katie Swan in the QFs.

Sunderland, Great Britain (25)
#1 seed Harriet Dart (22, #134, Britain) and #2 seed Robin Anderson (26, #202, USA) both made the SFs here, and yet both of them lost to the same Qualifier who ended up taking the title; a player who has already won a W15 this year and now, out of nowhere, 6 weeks away from her 31st birthday, has won her HIGHEST level title of her career: Laura-Ioana Paar (30, #383, Romania)!  Part of an army of hyphenated Ioanas from Romania, Paar has never been higher than #280 at any time in her career.  Having now won her biggest title ever at such a relatively old age, could we see Paar make more of a mark this year?  She barely even qualified for this tournament, having to win a super TB against Victoria Muntean (22, #583, France) in QR2 to make it to the main draw.  From there, though, she only dropped 2 sets, one of those in final against Dart.  It certainly seems to indicate future success.  However, despite Paar's 25-5 record in 2019, all 30 of those matches have come on indoor hard courts.  Her career record on clay is quite good, but could the transition mess up her momentum?

Hong Kong (25)
Having already won her first career pro title earlier this year (W25 Altenkirchen), promising Chinese teen phenom Ma Shuyue (19, #266) wins her second just a few weeks later as this tourney's #4 seed.  Although she had some trouble in the QF round, needing to go until 7-5 in the 3rd against Aldila Sutjiadi (23, #607, Indonesia), she kept her cool and won the title.  This is one of several Hong Kong tourneys at this level, and Ma had previously been runner up at one back in January, losing the final to Dasha Lopatetska.

Osaka, Japan (25)
This time we DID get our rare final between the top two seeds, but it still resulted in an upset, with #2 Han Na-Lae (26, #192, South Korea) defeating #1 Wang Xiyu (18, #175, China) in three sets for the title.  This is Han's 9th career title, her 7th at this level.  She hasn't won anything higher than a W25, though, so let's see if she can change that this year!

Obidos, Portugal (25)
So this is an outdoor carpet tournament, according to the ITF website.  Huh.
Anyways, the SFs here were waged between two Georgians and two Spaniards, with the title eventually going to Mariam Bolkvadze (21, #252, Georgia) as she defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz (27, #319, Spain) in the final.  Bolkvadze is now at her highest career level and is 9-1 in her last 10 matches, having been runner up in the first Obidos W25 earlier this month.

Tunis, Tunisia (25+)
#7 seed Jacqueline Adina Cristian (20, #328, Romania) gets her first title of 2019 after an impressive run of clay court play!  She qualified for both Sao Paulo and Curitiba and played well, even making the SFs of the latter.  She had direct entry into this thanks to those good results and made the most of it, not dropping a set on the way to her first trophy in 2 years!  Historically she's not even that good on clay, being more of a hard courter.  She was once 1 ranking spot away from making the Top 200.  If she takes this form into a surface she's more comfortable with, could she finally get back there?

Pelham, Alabama, USA (25)
Another #7 seed gets victory here as Barbora Krejcikova (23, #157, Czech) defeats #2 seed former #102 Caroline Dolehide (20, #229, USA) in the final, 4 and 3.  This is Krejcikova's 2nd title in as many weeks and she's now 10-0 on clay for 2019.  She'll be one to watch for if she shows up in qualies somewhere in the next few weeks!

W15 Champs for Week 15
- Park So-Hyun (16, #???, South Korea), made her professional clay court debut this year and now has a clay court W15 title.  Won a 3rd set TB in QFs.  Could Korea have an actual tennis prospect here?
- Magali Kempen (21, #???, Belgium), her 3rd title this year, now up to 23-4 W-L record in 2019.
- Kamilla Rakhimova (17, #632, Russia), 2nd title of 2019 and her career, 17-3 record and now 5-0 on clay.
- Natsumi Kawaguchi (16, #???, Japan), made her professional debut last year, playing and losing only one pro match.  Last week's W15 in Cancun was only the second professional tournament of her life and she won it.  That is... utterly mindblowing.  Now has a career W-L record of 5-1.  Incidentally, she also won the Doubles title here.  Current Junior #16.
- Ana Lantigua de la Nuez (18, #???, Spain), first career title, 43-34 pro record, all on clay.

---

Where Are Last Week's Champs Now?
- Pablo Andujar was runner-up ATP 250 Marrakech, ending his win streak at 14.  He's now already #86.
- Kamil Majchrzak lost in R3 of Taipei in a 3rd set TB to Tatsuma Ito.
- Krejcikova followed up her Palm Harbor W80 title with the Pelham W25 title (see above).
- Vitalia Diatchenko, as mentioned above, has won three titles in three weeks.
- Olivia Rogowska is currently into QR2 of this week's Dothan W80.
- Danka Kovinic lost in the SFs of Palm Harbor W80 to Nicole Gibbs.
- Jil-Belen Teichmann lost in the SFs of Santa Mergherita di Pula 2 to Kaya Juvan, then lost in R1 of Lugano 280 to Veronika Kudermetova.
- Giulia Gatto-Monticone qualified for Lugano 280, but lost in R1 to Viktoriya Kuzmova.
- Daria Snigur finally ran out of gas and suffered her first loss of 2019, a 2 and 2 drubbing to eventual Osaka champ Han Na-Lae.  Hopefully this loss will benefit her, taking some of the pressure of perfection away.
- Maryna Zanevska retired 1-4 down in the QFs of Obidos 2 W25.
- Katarzyna Kawa lost to Sesil Karatantcheva in the QFs of Pelham W25, but is currently into QR2 of Dothan W80.
- Ipek Soylu lost in R1 of Tunis W25 to Greet Minnen.
- Montserrat Gonzalez lost in R1 of Jackson W25 to Katie Volynets.
- Camilla Scala lost in R1 of Tunis W25 to Varvara Gracheva.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

GOOOOO ARVIS!

16 Wimbledon 14 US Open Yoda Cup
16 Wimbledon 14 French Open Alpha Cup
12, 13 & 16 King Droid
15 Naboo Cup 14 Lord Vader- RU

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Thanks Arvis. Must take hours!

2016:-Diamond Droid and Captain Plasma Helmet Champ.
2018:-Ruby Droid and Jar Jar Dartboard Champ.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

It takes a bit of time, but I've got it down to a science now. tongue

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Week 16

Anning, China (125)
2018 champ and #2 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran came so close to defending his points here, making it all the way to the final and defeating some familiar names (like Milojevic and Majchrzak) along the way.  However, he couldn't do enough in the final against a player who is a very rare breed: British clay court expert, Jay Clarke (20, #161).
Clarke is quite a bit better on clay than any other surface, even going 30-10 on it back in 2017.  However, this is his only clay court Challenger title, with his only other trophy at this level coming on hard courts last year.  He even defeated #1 seed Jordan Thompson here in 3 sets in R3.
With a new windfall of 125 ATP ranking points in his pockets, Clarke is now at his highest career ranking.

Sarasota, Florida, USA (100)
With lots of big names showing up to play on green clay in the States, it was a promising young American with two first names who took the title: Tommy Paul (21, #158) defeated #2 Tennys Sandgren in the final to take home his 2nd career Challenger trophy.  "Saint" Paul has been off the radar completely since the Australian Open this year, where he lost in QR2.  He played Houston qualies a few weeks ago for his first match back, then didn't play again until this tournament.  Looks like he had no rust on him!  Could America have a legit clay courter in its future?
Elsewhere, #1 seed Hugo Dellien lost in R3 to a lion from a series of CS Lewis novels.  I did not know they let lions play pro tennis at this level.

San Luis Potosi, Mexico (80)
Day 1: I've drawn some Dutch qualifier.  Should be easy.  Will report back. (........) UPDATE: It was easy.  Got #16 seed next.  Fully expect to be in a different city by tomorrow evening.
Day 2: So uh... I beat the #16 seed.  This is a new sensation.  What does a person even do after winning two matches in a Challenger tournament?  I've like... literally not done this all year.  Eh, he was probably in bad form.  Got some nobody from Ecuador next.  I'm so nervous I'll probably lose now!
Day 3: I did actually beat the Ecuadoran, although I thought I was a goner after losing that 2nd set TB.  This is awesome!  I might be able to buy my team dinner tonight with my winnings!  This has been a good tournament.  Hope I can at least make things interesting for the #11 seed tomorrow.
Day 4: Aaaand I beat the #11 seed.  What is going on?  Are people throwing matches?  How am I in the SFs?  And my opponent in the final is a low-ranked Brazilian Alt with a Japanese last name.  I should have no trouble against him.
Day 5:  I had no trouble against him.  How the heck am I in the final of a Challenger tournament?  I have only won two Futures tourneys ever!  I'M NOT EVEN GOOD ON CLAY!  I WENT 2-4 ON THE SURFACE LAST YEAR!  I am having a crisis.  At least it's finally over, because Adrian Menendez-Maceiras is way too good on clay for me to even have a chance.
Day 6:  I just beat Maceiras in the final in straights.  I see conspiracy everywhere.  I no longer trust anyone.  I have taken my winnings and converted them to $100 bills which I will keep in a shoebox under my floorboards.

-excerpt from The Memoirs of Marc-Andrea Hüsler (22, #281, Switzerland)

Tunis, Tunisia (80)
Some guy named Pablo Cuevas (33, #73, Uruguay) won this as the #1 seed without dropping a set.  Anyone heard of him?  Anyone want to hear the story of this tournament?  *crickets chirping*  ....anyone?  Is this thing on?  He defeated unseeded Joao Domingues (25, #214, Portugal) in the final and everything.  This makes an absurd 13 titles at this level for Cuevas.

---

Women's

Dothan, Alabama, USA (80)
This looks like it was an exciting tournament!  #6 seed Lauren Davis went the deepest of all the seeds here, but even she was no match for the fierce onslaught a certain qualifier trying to make her way back to the Top 100: Kristina Kucova (28, #196, Slovakia)!  Kucova won it in style, too, taking out the #4 and #7 seeds on her way to the final.  Then, against Davis, she had to win a 2nd set TB 11-9 to stay in the match before putting away her deflated opponent.  This resulted in by far Kucova's biggest career title and her first in 4 years!

Santa Margherita di Pula 4 (25)
Here's a familiar name: Arantxa Rus (28, #127, The Netherlands).  Formerly #61 in the world her career did take the trajectory she probably wanted.  But she's here and she's winning tournaments!  Not only that, but she seems to have stopped the unstoppable, defeating Dasha Lopatetska (16, #252, Ukraine) in the final here in 3 sets.
Lopatetska went 11-0 on clay last year but is off to a 5-2 start on the surface this year.  Good for most teens but I imagine Dasha expects better of herself.
In a weird quirk, Rus has had to play qualies to get into the next Santa Margherita tourney, but she has done so successfully and even won her R1 match as of this writing.  So she seems to be in good form and this win may not be as flukey as it seems.

W15 Champs for Week 16
- Chanel Simmonds (26, #515, South Africa), was 1-4 in pro matches this year before taking the title. She's not even good on clay, either, and yet won this title with the loss of only 12 games across 5 matches. Delivered 2 bagels and 5 breadsticks, her worst set in the tournament was a 6-3 win.  Owns many titles at this level.
- Fernanda Brito (27, #547, Chile), had already won 3 titles by this time last year, went on to win 9 total in 2018. Career high rank of #274.
- Despina Papamichail (26, #487, with a name like that I'll give you one guess where she's from), has played nearly 30 matches already this year.  12th career title, all at this level.
- Anastasia Zakharova (17, #???, Russia), another promising Russian teen, double-bageled her opponent in the final.  This is her first career title.
- Marcela Zacarias (25, #513, Mexico), won this "home" tournament in Cancun, was 0-2 on the year before this.
- Rosa Vicens Mas (18, #659, Spain), her 2nd title this year and of her young career.

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Where Are Last Week's Champs Now?
- Dennis Novak made the transition to clay with grace and class, getting double-breadsticked in R1 of An-Ning by Andrej Martin.
- Roberto Carballes Baena lost in Barcelona qualies to Diego, but entered the main draw as a LL. Defeated Kuhn in R2 and is still in the draw atm.
- Shuyue Ma has won two straight-setters in An-Ning currently.
- Jacqueline Adina Cristian is currently into R2 of Chiasso, Switzerland W25.
- Kamilla Rakhimova lost in SFs of another clay W15, but has currently qualified for hard court Andijan, Uzbekistan W25 and won her R1 match.
- Natsumi Kawaguchi, our young Japanese débutante, finally ran out of gas after making the QFs of another hard court W15, mere days after winning her first pro title.
- Ana Lantigua de la Nuez lost in the QFs of a clay court W15.

Last edited by Arvis (Apr. 25, 2019 8:28am)

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Hurray for Husler! That was a funny excerpt.

Thanks Arvis

2016: Rey Saber, Lord Vader, Supreme Jedi, Yoda Crew player of the year
2014: Lord Vader, King Droid, Naboo Champion, Yoda Crew player of the year
2013: Yoda Cup Wimbledon champion, Yoda Cup Guru Runner-up
2012: Yoda Cup Wimbledon champion

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Go Jay Clarke! ( And Aslan)

2016:-Diamond Droid and Captain Plasma Helmet Champ.
2018:-Ruby Droid and Jar Jar Dartboard Champ.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Thanks Arvis. Hüsler Memoirs are great!

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Updated thread with previous week updates as well as pics.  You can now see for yourselves the bewildered and suspicious smile of a man on the verge of mental collapse.

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Is that REALLY from Husler's memoirs? I have my doubts...

Amazing job, Arvis.  I LOVE these updates!!

2017 Supreme Jedi, 2017 Lord Vader, 2017 Chivalrous Wookie, 2015 Naboo Champion, 2018 Big Fat Nothing

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Thanks for the update Arvis and the humour to go along with it. smile

2018 - Princess Leia Champ
2017 - Rey Saber Champ, Padme Champ, Obi Wan R-Up, BIG 5 Career Slam, Yoda Crew Hall Of Fame 2016 - Padme Runner-Up
2015 - Obi Wan Master, King Droid, Yoda Crew POTY 2014 - Guru Race Runner-Up
2013 - Guru Race Winner (2014 Yoda Cup Guru), US Open Yoda Cup, Yoda Crew POTY 2012 - Lord Vader 2011 - Wimbledon Yoda Cup

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

You've made me a fan of this young lefty Hüsler kid.

16 Wimbledon 14 US Open Yoda Cup
16 Wimbledon 14 French Open Alpha Cup
12, 13 & 16 King Droid
15 Naboo Cup 14 Lord Vader- RU

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Week 17

Men's

Leon, Mexico (80)
Alexander Bublik seems content to avoid clay in general this year, where possible, and just rack up as many points on the Challenger tour as possible until the surface changes back.  However, here, he seemed poised to take yet another title, but retired with injury to unseeded Liam Broady (25, #299, Britain) in the SFs.  Broady was playing with house money at this point after being 2 points from defeat in R3, and he hasn't won a title since 2016.  However, it still wasn't enough to overcome 14-seed Slovenian veteran Blaz Rola (28, #207).  Rola is a former Top 100 player who is primarily a clay courter, so it was unusual for him to enter this tournament instead of one of the 3 clay Challengers this week.  Counting Futures tourneys, Rola now has 13 career titles and only 3 are on hard court instead of clay.

Tallahassee, Florida, USA (80)
We have a first time Challenger champ crowned here, and crowned in style, dropping only one set along the way (in a TB) and defeating the runner-up 2 and 2 in the final: Emilio Gomez (27, #197, Ecuador)!  Despite his age he had never won a title at this level before.  He rockets to the highest ranking of his career.  Impressively, the victim he annihilated in the final was last week's Sarasota 100 champ, Tommy Paul.
In an interesting twist of coincidences: the last two players to defeat Emilio Gomez (before and after this title) are Paolo Lorenzi and Alejandro Gonzalez.  The player who went on to defeat both of them in those respective tournaments?  Tommy Paul. *Twilight Zone music plays*

Francavilla al Mare, Italy (80)
I'd say about 1/3rd of all players entered here were Italian, many of them WCs and SEs.  But the Italian who took the title earned it on his own without any favors from the tournament organizers because he was the #5 seed here: Stefano Travaglia (27, #128, Italy).  After beating Federico Gaio in a tight 3rd set TB in the QFs, Travaglia would go on to defeat #3-seed Oscar Otte (25, #138, Germany) for his 3rd career Challenger title.  1-seed Maximilian Marterer retired with injury to Otte in the SFs, but the German couldn't capitalize on the physical advantage this gave him in the final.

Nanchang, China (80)
Although he was unseeded here, our champion had won 9 Challenger titles previously and was once #98 in the world.  I am talking about Andrej Martin (29, #199, Slovakia), a familiar name from my old 2017 thread.  And before you assume this was a broken draw and Martin had it easy, he defeated 1-seed Jordan Thompson in the final in 3 sets.  Martin is 13-6 on clay this year and all 6 of those losses are to fairly good players, so he has been playing his way up to this level pretty consistently, refusing to lose to players ranked below him.  Although he is older, he could still have more Challenger titles in him if he keeps improving.

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Women's

Anning, China (125)
The thing with these WTA 125s is that they're so unpredictable, right?  Tell that to the top 2 seeds here, #1 Zhang Shuai and #2 Zheng Saisai, who played each other in the final.  But it was Saisai who ended up taking the title.  She was in scary form the entire tournament, playing only one bad set the entire time (3-6 loss to qualifier Kaylah "Nanny" McPhee (21, #242, Australia) in the SFs) and delivering a grand total of one bagel and five breadsticks throughout the tourney, including one breadstick to Shuai in the final.  Zheng Saisai now has 6 titles at the WTA 125k level and surprisingly 4 of them are at THIS tournament.  She really is right at home here.  What makes it even more unusual is that Saisai is 39-26 on clay in her career and has never won a clay title anywhere else at ANY level.

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA (80)
A fantastic tournament for a promising young American clay court expert and 8-seed, Whitney Osuigwe (17, #139)!  She defeated 1-seed Taylor Townsend in the QFs and 2-seed Madison Brengle in the final, both in 3 sets.  And she had to go to a 3rd set TB to defeat Katarzyna Kawa (26, #200, Poland) in the SFs.  But she toughed out wins in all of them for her 2nd career title, 1st on clay.  Impressively, BOTH of her pro titles are at the 80 level, so at the young age of 17 she has basically just skipped the 15, 25, and 60 levels entirely.  What does the future hold for her?

Santa Margherita di Pula 5, Italy (25)
Remember in the last update when Arantxa Rus (28, #135, The Netherlands) won the 4th iteration of this tournament?  Well, this week she had to play qualies to get into this one (late entry?) and in QR2, completely exhausted, defeated Sara Cakarevic (22, #486, France) 11-9 in a Super TB after barely taking the 2nd set from her in a normal TB.  But then, despite having had so much court time over the last several days, Rus just.... went on to win the tournament again.  And yes, despite qualifying, she was the 1-seed.  A 1-seed Qualifier.  That's new.  She defeated a surprise finalist, unseeded Elizabeth "Ellie" Halbauer (21, #365, USA) in the final in 3 sets.  It would have been Halbauer's biggest career title.  But it's ok, because in her very next match after this final, Halbauer... uh... lost to Arantxa Rus in 3 sets.  Oh well.

Chiasso, Switzerland (25)
Only one seed made the SFs here, #7 Marta Kostyuk (16, #320, Ukraine).  But she lost to last week's Tunis W25 champ Jacqueline Adina Cristian, who then went on to lose to our champion, an unheralded teen qualifier from Russia, Varvara Gracheva (18, #405).  Gracheva had won two W15s before in her young career, but this W25 titles launches her to her highest ever ranking, knocking on the door of the Top 400.  Lots of promising young players mentioned here, I wonder if any of them are future superstars waiting to happen?

Osprey, Florida, USA (25)
The winner here is a personal favorite player of mine: 3-seed Ann Li (18, #252, USA)!  Li started her 2019 campaign on clay in Daytona Beach, FL, USA, losing in R2 to eventual champ Anna Bondar.  After that result, Li's professional clay court W-L record was 12-11.  Since the beginning of April, Ann Li made the final of Jackson W25, lost to eventual champ Kawa in Pelham W25, and now won this title, resulting in a staggering clay court record of 11-2 over her last 13 matches.  She's now at her career high ranking and has her first ever W25 title.  She defeated 1-seed Elena Gabriela Ruse (21, #204, Romania) in the SFs, and unseeded fellow American Usue Arconada (20, #316) in the final.

Andijan, Uzbekistan (25)
Kamilla Rakhimova (17, #643, Russia) seems to like to live dangerously.  Probably our lowest-ranked W25 champ all year, Rakhimova tore her way through qualies here, but then drew 1-seed Valeria Savinykh (28, #259, Russia) in the first round.  Unfazed, she beat her in straights, but then in R2 was a few points from losing!  She came back to win after taking the 2nd in a TB, fought her way to the finals, only to be bageled by her opponent, 4-seed Pranjala Yadlapalli (20, #282, India) in the 1st set.  And yet STILL Rakhimova would not be denied, winning the next two sets 1 and 3 for the biggest win of her career.  Earlier this year I reported Rakhimova's first pro title, an indoor W15 in February, and now she has already graduated to winning W25s.  All 3 of her 2019 titles came on three different surfaces (indoor hard, clay, outdoor hard).  Her 7 wins here (including qualies) were her first outdoor hard matches all year.

W15 Champs for Week 17
- Manca Pislak (21, #740, Slovenia), was 4-4 in 2019 before winning this title.  Has played entirely on clay this year despite going 15-4 and winning a title on outdoor hard last year.
- Fernanda Brito (27, #545, Chile), 2nd title in 2 weeks, 10-0 in her last 10 matches.  Now at a staggering 29 career titles at this level.
- Simona Waltert (18, #592, Switzerland), won this title on clay, her first 5 clay matches of the year.  Started the year going 13-2 across 3 outdoor hard tournaments but has been relatively quiet since, so it's nice to see her name here again.  4th career W15 title.
- Marcela Zacarias (25, #511, Mexico), a second outdoor hard W15 title in as many weeks, both at home in Mexico.  Across these last 10 matches, she has not lost a set or even been taken to a TB.  Title #13.
- Alice Rame (21, #780, France), 3rd career title, first since 2017, all on clay.

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Where Are Last Week's Champs Now?
- Jay Clarke lost in R2 of Nanchang.
- Tommy Paul lost in the final of Tallahassee (see above).
- Marc Andrea Hüsler went right back to not winning 2 matches in Challengers, losing in R2 of Leon and Puerto Vallarta.  He's still 6-0 on clay, though, lol.
- Pablo Cuevas lost in the QFs of Budapest 250, then lost in qualies of Estoril 250, but is currently still alive there as a LL.
- Arantxa Rus won another title (see above).
- Chanel Simmonds lost in the SFs of a W15.
- Fernanda Brito won another title (see above).
- Despina Papamichail lost in the SFs of a W15 and QR2 of a W60.
- Anastasia Zakharova lost in the QFs of Andijan W25, but is active in a W15 right now.
- Marcela Zacarias won another title (see above).

Re: Challenger Chat 2019

Week 18

Men's

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (110)
Sebastian Ofner (22, #126, Austria), who made some noise two years ago when he made the 3rd round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, has won his 2nd Challenger title!  Seeded #5 here, he played only seeded players from his 2nd match on, but all were ranked lower than him, culminating in a 3-set win in the final over John-Patrick Smith (30, #224, Australia).  He only had a 12-12 record on the year coming in, but he won the title while only losing 2 sets.  Might he be rounding into form for another grass court push?
Elsewhere, #1 Sascha Bublik not only lost his first match, but were it not for is R1 bye he would have been this tournament's Wooden Spoon.  It raises red flags as to his condition.

Bordeaux, France (110)
#1 Lucas Pouille (25, #28, France) took a wildcard into this tournament to get some wins under his belt and hopefully a decent chunk of ranking points.  It's rather strange for a Top 30 player who made a Slam SF this year to be playing a Challenger.  However, the decision seemed to work for him, as he won the tournament despite having lost 5 matches in a row since his AO semi.  It wasn't easy, as he had to beat his first opponent in a 3rd set TB, then ate a breadstick in each of his next two matches.  However, he overcame all of that to take the title easily, beating Mikael Ymer (20, #149, Sweden) in the final 3 and 3.
Pouille still underachieved in Madrid this week despite his upset of Coric.  But could he be someone to watch out for in Paris?

Seoul, South Korea (100)
Unseeded Max Purcell (21, #236, Australia) was a surprise finalist here, defeating the #2, #12, #13, and #14 players on his way to the final.  However, he was not prepared for the gritty determination and crowd support of the young hometown hero, a rising star of Korean tennis, #11 seed Kwon Soon-Woo (21, #135, Korea)!  Kwon lost only one set in this tournament, and this trophy is his 2nd Challenger title in a span of two months, the only two of his young career.
Kwon Soon-Woo is still a contender for the Next-Gen Finals.

Savannah, Georgia, USA (90)
Tennys Sandren and Paolo Lorenzi were the #1 and #2 seeds here, respectively, but they both ended up being defeated by the same player: Federico Coria (27, #216, Argentina), little brother of Guillermo Coria.
The younger Coria defeated Sandgren in R3 in straights, then defeated Lorenzi in the final in 3 sets.  Despite having consistently played pro tennis for 10 years now, this is his first ever Challenger title.  What a moment for the little bro!

Ostrava, Czech Republic (80)
Our lowest-ranking tournament of the week was one by one of the Challenger tour's best players of the year, Kamil Majchrzak (23, #115, Poland).  This is Kamil's 2nd title of the year, and the result moved him to an 8-1 record on clay for the year.  He won this title without dropping a set, although #1 Lloyd Harris took him to two TBs, including an 11-9 TB in the 2nd set of their SF.
As exciting as that SF match was, though, the final was extremely anti-climactic.  The most promising 17-year-old on tour, Jannik Sinner (#262, Italy) was Kamil's final opponent.  Sinner has already won a Challenger this year, followed that up with two Futures tourney wins (his first three professional tournament trophies, all back to back), and racked up 13 professional clay court wins for the year on his way to this match.  And then he concluded all of that build-up with a 0 and 1 loss to Majchrzak.  He's still young and even the most experienced have bad days, but still.

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Women's

Charleston, South Carolina, USA (100)
#1 and #2 seeds here were Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend, respectively.  While Brengle would lose in R1 to a qualifier, Taylor Townsend (23, #103, USA) would go on to win the tournament without ever having to play a seeded player.  However, that doesn't mean her matches were easy, as she defeated two of America's most promising teens, Coco Gauff and Whitney Osuigwe, the latter in the final. The final was a revenge match for Townsend, who lost to Osuigwe in their last match in my most recent Challenger Chat update.
This is Townsend's first title this year, and it's a huge one, the biggest of her career.  This will help her get back into the Top 100, a goal that seems very likely to happen before the year is out.

Gifu, Japan (80)
We only had one seeded player make the SFs in this extremely lucrative hard court tournament, and that seed is the one who went on to take the title: the sultry and seductive Zarina Diyas (25, #98, Kazakhstan).  After having been nearly in the Top 30 years ago, Zarina has slowly been working her way back into playing high level tennis, and this W80 trophy has her officially back in the Top 100.  Diyas had a tough match that she came very close to losing in the QFs against Kurumi Nara, then started her SF match eating a breadstick in the 1st before delivering her own in the 3rd.  But then against surprising Taiwanese teen Liang En-Shuo (18, #155, Chinese Taipei) Diyas won 0 and 2 for the trophy.  This is the 3rd-biggest title of Zarina's career.

Wiesbaden, Germany (60)
Another clay court ITF tournament, another clay court trophy for Barbora Krejcikova (23, #126, Czech).  This makes THREE TOURNAMENTS IN A ROW for Krejcikova.  She took a week off last week, and then just jumped right back in where she left off, winning this W60 without dropping a set.  In every match leading to the final here, Krejcikova won every set with the loss of 2 games or fewer, dropping only 10 games total before the final.  However, her opponent in the final, Katarina Zavatska (19, #196, Ukraine) was playing on a whole different level.  Krejcikova still didn't drop a set, though, winning the match 6-4, 7-6(2).  Can anyone stop her?  She's now an absurd 15-0 since the start of April.

Les Franqueses del Valles, Spain (60)
This Spanish tournament with a French name sported a Spaniard as its #1 seed and a Frenchwoman as its #2 seed.  Yet it was won by a Brit!  Unseeded Katy Dunne (24, #236, Britain) stuns the cosmopolitan crowd by defeating #1 seed Paula Badosa Gibert (21, #133, Spain) in the final in straight sets.  Dunne was only 5-7 on the year coming in, making it even more surprising.  This makes PBG's 2nd runner-up finish of the year.

Santa Margherita di Pula 6, Italy (25)
Switching back to clay did wonders for one of the brightest stars of 2019's W15 circuit, Mirjam Bjorklund (20, #471, Sweden).  She's already won 3 W15 titles this year, and now she has her first career W25.  She started the tournament by beating the #2 seed in R1, then beat qualifier Gabriela Ce (26, #442, Brazil) in straight sets in the final, taking a kind of reverse trajectory to the title.

Khimki, Russia (25)
#7 seed Sofya Lansere (18, #391, Russia) won this title kind of out of nowhere.  She did show back in Kazan W25 in March that she can play well indoors, making the SFs there.  But the fact is that she's struggled to go deep everywhere else this year.  But those struggles obviously strengthened her, as 4 of her 5 wins here were in 3 sets.  She defeated another surprise finalist, Dea Herdzelas (22, #449, Bosnia) for the title here.  Herdzelas hadn't played an indoor tournament in nearly 3 years and had a career record of 9-7 on the surface coming in.

Namangan, Uzbekistan (25)
It seems Valeria Savinykh (28, #258, Russia) may have wanted to prove herself after losing her R1 match last week in Andijan W25 to the eventual champ.  As #1 seed here, she made sure to win the title herself this time, including defeating that same Andijan W25 champ, Rakhimova, in the QFs.  Her opponent in the final was the poetically named Eudice Wong Chong from Hong Kong (23, #497), and no I didn't make any of that up.
In 2011, Savinykh won her first pro title, a massive W100, and even reached as high as #99 in the world. However, she then went on a major drought, not winning any titles and even falling out of the Top 500 by the end of 2015.  Since then, though, she has won at least one pro title every year.

W15 Champs for Week 18
- Indy de Vroome (22, #???, Netherlands), first pro title in 5 years, on comeback from injury last year.
- Mayar Sherif (23, #???, Egypt), 2nd title of the year, only had 1 title before this year which she got all the way back in 2013.  Recently went 3-0 in Fed Cup verses Norway, losing only 4 games across those three matches.
- Anastasia Zakharova (17, #???, Russia), 2nd career title, both this year. Now has made finals on 3 different surfaces in 2019.  Absurd 23-4 record for the year.
- Estelle Cascino (23, #532, France), 4th career title, all at this level.  Won on clay, despite being barely above .500 on the surface.

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Where Are Last Week's Champs Now?
- Blaz Rola lost in the QFs of Puerto Vallarta and withdrew from Braga this week with injury after winning one match.
- Emilio Gomez lost in R2 of Savannah, but is currently into R3 of Braga.
- Stefano Travaglia lost in the QFs of Ostrava and R3 of Aix en Provence.
- Andrej Martin DNP, but this week is into the QFs of Shymkent.
- Zheng Saisai lost in R3 of Madrid to Sloane Stephens.
- Whitney Osuigwe lost in the final of Charleston (see above).
- Arantxa Rus lost in QFs of Wiesbaden W60 to eventual finalist Zavatska.
- Varvara Gracheva lost in QFs of Khimki W25 and R2 of Cagnes-Sur-Mer W80 after qualifying.
- Ann Li lost in R2 of Charleston W100 but is currently into R2 of Bonita Springs W100.
- Kamilla Rakhimova kost in QFs of Namangan to eventual champ Valeria Savinykh (see above).
- Manca Pislak lost in R2 of a W15.
- Simona Waltert lost in the finals of a W15 to Mayar Sherif (see above).
- Marcela Zacarias is currently into QFs of another Cancun W15.
- Alice Rame lost in R1 of this week's Rome W25 after qualifying.