I am going to start off with the fantastic news that Jay Clarke has won his first ATP Tour Challenger event. I am absolutely buzzing for him. The 20-year-old Derbyshire born Jay took the title in Binghamton as the eighth seed. Yunseong Chung, Marcos Giron, Evgeny Karlovskiy were all put away before beating the top two seeds in Marcel Granollers(2) and then Jordan Thompson(1) in the final. Granollers is a former top twenty player and Thompson has beaten Andy Muzza before (at Queens Club in 2017). No mean feat there then. He battled from a set and 4/5* down in the second set breaker on the Thompson serve, he has got a loooooottt of heart. It is a tribute to his hard work and he is starting to bear the fruit of his labours. What makes this lad so likeable is just how down to earth he comes across. Let us face it, this is in an era where it is virtually impossible for any young player to behave like this, as they simply aren’t given the chance. Even more props to Jay. Dan Evans made the second round here after losing to Darian King but things are still going north for Evo. Clarke moves up 50 places to 175 and Evo edges back up to 315 on his comeback. Both players head to Lexington this week. Hoping for a big few weeks from the pair of them.
Photos courtesy of Jay Alexander Clarke (@jay.a.clarke) Instagram page.
There isn’t any doubting the fact that Nikoloz Basilashvili deserved to be in the winner’s enclosure for the first time in his career on the main tour in Hamburg. He actively praised his new coach Jan De Witt for his form, saying how he has made a difference. The Georgian ousted Kohlschreiber, Cuevas, Carreno Busta, Nicolas Jarry and Leo Mayer. Mayer was defending champion here and had also beaten Diego Schwartzman in a tight three sets. Jarry had already taken out top-seed Dominic Thiem, I do actually think this lad can play a bit from Chile.
Out of the top eight seeds in Gstaad, only Roberto Bautista Agut and Feli Lopez made it to the quarters. Fognini, Coric and Rublev all losing their first matches. Matteo Berrettini took full advantage in a break out week. I read the Italian held serve on all 49 occasions in Switzerland and looked mightly impressive with the power he had at his disposal. Particularly against Lopez in the last 8 and Bautista Agut in the final. Excellent stuff from the 22-year-old.
However, John Isner is doing his best impression of a Liverpool fan by giving it the ‘five times’ full hand (the number of times LFC have won the European Cup). I didn’t think he would get that fifth title as I thought he would be physically and mentally struggling from Wimbledon still. Though he admitted to being low on energy he still battled through here, he beat Ryan Harrison in the final. Harrison had beaten Hyeon Chung in the quarters, the Korean playing his first matches in two months. Second seed Nick Kyrgios pulled out of his match when a set and a break down to Cameron Norrie. It was a good week for ‘Nozza’ making the semis, having also beat Jeremy Chardy. Though he will be annoyed letting his set advantage slip in the last four against Harrison.
Olga Danilovic won the battle of the 17-year-olds by beating former Junior Wimbledon champion Anastasia Potopova in the final. Danilovic actually came in late doors as a Lucky Loser and then went on to beat top-seeded Julia Goerges and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the quarters and semis. Potopova showed some fight of her own on the way to final, coming back from a set down on two occasions. She almost pulled it off in the final too, having saved a match point in the second set. Sadly, it slipped away from her in the decider after having 40/0 on serve for 5/3.
Photo courtesy of Olga Danilovic (@danilovicolga) Instagram.
Qiang Wang won her maiden title in Nanchang after Saisai Zheng pulled out injured in the final. Wang has always looked to have a lot of potential and maybe it is surprising that this is her first title. Zheng pulling out with an abdominal injury here when 5/7 0/4. With the event still in its infancy, it has so far been dominated by the Chinese Ladies with Peng winning it twice and Duan also on the winner’s list. Jelena Jankovic is the only other winner.
I haven’t forgotten the five winners from the previous week on the main tour, I just decided to release my Wimbledon review instead. Steve Johnson won on the grass in Newport, Fabio Fognini won on the clay in Bastad as did Marco Cecchinato in Umag. In the Ladies, Anastasia Sevastova won in Bucharest and Alize Cornet won the title in Gstaad.
Andy Del Potro