2015 Guangzhou and Santiago Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Top seed Blaz Kavcic’s first tournament since Zagreb in the first week of February ended in disaster, as he got pummelled in the first round by Ze Zhang, 6-1 6-3. A similar faith was bestowed upon two other seeds, #3 Aleksandr Nedovyesov and #5 John Millman, as they fell in the first round as well. Nedovyesov couldn’t build on his Davis Cup victory against Fognini, as he lost 6-2 7-6(5) to Somdev Devvarman, while Millman lost 6-2 1-6 6-2 to Roberto Marcora. The remaining seed, #7 Hiroki Moriya, didn’t outperform them by much, as he lost convincingly to Aldin Setkic in the second round, 6-3 6-1. Two players came out on top after this exodus of seeds, Marton Fucsovics and Marcora. They faced off in the semi-final in an absolutely epic encounter, that was eventually won by Marcora, 7-6(3) 6-7(9) 6-4.
In the bottom half #2 seed Hyeon Chung did what was expected from him and reached the semi-final of a Challenger for the fourth consecutive time. Here the surprising part started, however, as Belgian Kimmer Coppejans beat him there 6-4 2-6 6-2 to reach his second career Challenger final. The final against Marcora, an even bigger rookie with zero previous finals, was a tough one. The first two sets couldn’t be closer, but in the third set Coppejans clearly outperformed the Italian. Final score 7-6(6) 5-7 6-1, as Coppejans took down his second Challenger title.
The top section got blown wide open after top seed Joao Souza withdrew and got replaced by a lucky loser. Jordi Samper-Montana took full advantage, taking out veteran Ramirez Hidalgo in the quarterfinal to set up a semi-final encounter with #4 seed Facundo Bagnis. Bagnis took out qualifier Caio Zampieri a round before, who in his turn took out #5 seed Horacio Zeballos. Bagnis beat Samper-Montana in a close encounter, 4-6 6-2 6-4, to reach his tenth Challenger final.
I predicted his opponent in the final to be one of the Gonzalez’s, Maximo or Alejandro, but one player clearly wasn’t agreeing with that. Guilherme Clezar absolutely bulldozered through the draw, beating Maximo 6-4 6-2 in the quarterfinal and Alejandro 6-1 6-1 in the semi-final, reaching his fourth Challenger final in very impressive fashion. Bagnis proved himself to be a bridge too far, however, beating Clezar 6-2 5-7 6-2 to take down his fifth career Challenger title.