2016 Dallas and Launceston Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
The week started in great fashion for the American crowd, with 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe ousting top seed and world #77 Sam Groth like it was no big deal at all: 6-3 6-3. Sixth seed Tatsuma Ito was too much in the quarterfinal, however, although he too won’t easily forget Tiafoe’s name after a long three-set battle: 3-6 7-5 6-4. In the next section Daniel Evans overcame perhaps the toughest draw in the tournament to join Ito in the semi-final. After victories over Andrey Rublev and eighth seed Bjorn Fratangelo, he comfortably beat third seed Benjamin Becker 6-1 6-4. In the semi-final he continued his impressive run by beating Ito as well, 6-2 4-6 6-1.
In the bottom half the two top seeds held up better. Second seed Kyle Edmund didn’t lose a set on his way tot he semi-final, where he faced fourth seed Tim Smyczek. Smyczek knew more troubles, needing three sets in both his second round match against Ryan Harrison as in his quarterfinal against Marinko Matosevic. Edmund continued his dominant run against Smyczek, beating him 7-5 6-3 for a place in the final. The first all British Challenger final since 2005. There Edmund once again managed to win in straight sets, beating Evans 6-3 6-2 to win his fourth Challenger title. The victory saw him climb eighteen ranking spots to a career high #84, while Evans jumped sixteen spots to #158.
Top seed James Duckworth withdrew citing an elbow injury, leaving ninth seed Stephane Robert to take his spot. However, from this section it would be 19-year-old wildcard Blake Mott who would be the story of the week. Mott, ranked 721st, beat Robert 6-3 7-6(6) in the quarterfinal, after which he was even more dominant against third seed Saketh Myneni in the semi-final, 6-1 6-4. In the bottom half two more home players did well, with Matthew Barton beating second seed Jordan Thompson in the first round, while Alex Bolt beat fourth seed Alexander Sarkissian in the second round. However, both of them fell to another seed in the quarterfinal. Bolt to seventh seed Luke Saville and Barton to eighth seed Andrey Golubev.
Golubev beat Saville 6-3 7-6(2) for a place in the final against the big surprise Mott. Mott continued to surprise, as he beat Golubev 6-7(4) 6-1 6-2 to take down the title. It meant Mott would almost cut his ranking in half, rising an enormous 356 spots to #365. Golubev rose forty spots to #181.