The Challenger 50 format is a brand new invention by the ATP, focusing on adding valuable events for lower-ranked players during Grand Slams, Grand Slam qualifying and other low-priority ATP Challenger Tour weeks. Next week we’ll have the first competition held in that format, the Potchefstroom Challenger in South Africa. But what’s the prize money, draw sizes and who is eligible to play?
Qualifying for a Challenger Tour 50 event consists of 24 players battling it out for six spots in the main draw. 20 of the places in the draw are direct ranking acceptances and the rest are handed out by the organizers as wildcards. The main draw of a Challenger Tour 50 event is composed of 32 players. Outside of the aforementioned 6 qualifying spots, there are at least 22 direct acceptances (23 if no special exempt) and 3 more wildcards.
Players who occupy spots between 1-150 are unable to enter a Challenger Tour 50 event. However, there are two possible exceptions. A player ranked between 51-100 can receive a wildcard is he’s of the same nationality as the event, although it still has to be approved by the ATP supervisor. A player ranked between 101-150 can receive an ATP approved wildcard regardless of nationality.
An ATP Challenger Tour event has a minimum prize pool of $35,000/£30,000 and that’s what we should expect from most of the Challenger 50 tournaments, with this financial commitment in place at all of the Challenger 50 tournaments currently on the schedule.
What’s to come?
The first Challenger 50 event began today in Potchefstroom, South Africa, held at North-West University. It marks the first Challenger-event to be held in South Africa since 2013, with a 25K ITF women’s event being played simultaneously at the same venue. So far on the 2020 ATP Challenger Tour schedule, an additional four tournaments have been added to the slate:
- Olimpia Tennis Classic (Brazil, the second week of Indian Wells)
- Internazionali di Tennis Citta dell’Aquila (Italy, Roland Garros qualifying, Lyon, Geneva)
- Orlando Open (the USA, the first week of Roland Garros)
- Troyes Challenger (France, the first week of Wimbledon)
That currently only stretches as far as June, however, with other tournaments likely to be added as the year progresses. Be sure to follow the event in Potchefstroom, top-seeded will be recent Bengaluru Challenger finalist Benjamin Bonzi. The Frenchman won an 25K ITF title at the same venue this week, taking down Tobias Simon in the final. The eccentric, but ever-popular Dustin Brown will also be in action as he continues his comeback from a hamstring injury.
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