Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Tsonga Back to Winning Ways

Montpellier Final

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga decided to play an ATP Challenger Tour event in Cassis, France during the second week of the US Open. The choice paid off as the No.1 seed got five matches under his belt and took his ninth career ATP Challenger trophy.

The Frenchman came back to the lower tier of the competition for the first time in 12 years this season, losing a quarterfinal to Filip Horansky in Bordeaux five months ago.

After routine wins over Henri Heliovaara and Antoine Escoffier, Tsonga was first challenged by his compatriot Rayane Roumane, who got into the main draw as a wild card. Quite unexpectedly, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up was forced to save a set point before triumphing 7-6 6-3.

Tsonga’s toughest victory came against the 21-year-old Swede Mikael Ymer, two-time Challenger Tour champion this season. The Frenchman saved three set points in the second set tie-break and straight-setted his opponent in just under two hours. This one might go down as the rally of the year:

The Frenchman has been very inconsistent with his results this season, but on these rare occasions where everything clicks for him, he is still a force to be reckoned with. His final victory against Dudi Sela was the shortest ATP Challenger Tour final ever.

The 5’9″ Israeli stood no chance against Tsonga’s blistering forehand. The Frenchman broke five times, dropping just 17 points in the whole match.

Tsonga will now rest for a week before playing an ATP 250 event in Metz.

Other winners of the week:

In a draw heavily dominated by Americans, Tommy Paul beat five compatriots to win his second Challenger title of the year in New Haven. That victory allowed him to break the top 100 for the very first time.

Lorenzo Sonego defended his title at the AON Open in Genoa. This year’s Antalya Open champion overcame Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a third set tie-break.

22-year old Zhizhen Zhang captured his maiden Challenger title in Jinan. The Chinese wild card leaped 170 positions in the ATP rankings and, as of Monday, stands as the No. 227 player in the world.

Some hot shots:

And one shot that wasn’t so hot:

This week is a perfect opportunity to keep an eye on the Challenger Tour action. No ATP Tour-level events should give you plenty of time to follow the second tier of tennis. We’ll be back next week with a recap of six ATP Challenger tournaments, including a Challenger 125 event in Szczecin, Poland. This highest-category event will also receive plenty of coverage during the week.

Main Photo from Getty.

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