By Glenys Furness
- Joe Salisbury with Frederik Nielsen claim the men’s doubles title
- Heather Watson with Mihaela Buzărnescu reached the women’s doubles final
- Dan Evans made first challenger final since returning to the tour
NOTTINGHAM, UK – A good week for Brits at the ATP Challenger with finalists in the singles and doubles. Dan Evans and Joe Salisbury were the stars of the shows. In the WTA doubles, Heather Watson was the Brit to shine this week.
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Brit of the Tournament
Dan Evans had a Special Exempt into the ATP Challenger at Nottingham, after making the semi-final in Loughborough the week before. The Brit faced Lucky Loser Dominik Koepfer. The German tried to make life difficult for Evans, but the Brit managed to get the break needed in each set to claim a second round spot 6-3, 7-5.
The second round saw the Brit against the seventh seed Sergiy Stakhovsky. The Ukrainian pushed Evans hard in both sets, however the first set saw both players exchange a break of serve. It looked to be heading to a tiebreak, however the Brit managed to break Stakhovsky again and claim the lead. The second set again saw exchange of breaks, but this time the set did go to a tiebreak. Evans made the breaker look easy dominating to claim the place i the next round 7-5, 7-6(2).
In the quarter-final Evans was against qualifier Brayden Schnur. The Canadian kept pace with Evans during the first set, and a tiebreak was needed to settle things. Schnur kept the breaker tight too, eventually though the Brit edged the set. Only one break of serve came all match, and that was in the second set. The Canadian could not prevent Evans from getting into the semi-final 7-6(5), 6-3.
The semi-final saw the Brit against Marcel Granollers. The Spaniard got the better start, breaking Evans in the first set, and claiming the lead. This was the first set the Brit had dropped all tournament. Evans re-grouped quickly and the second and third sets were much tougher than the scoreline would suggest. The Brit pulled through to make his first Challenger tour final since returning to the tour earlier in the year. 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
In the final the Brit faced the second seed Alex De Minaur. The Australian was made to work very hard by Evans, the first set saw both players exchange a break of serve to bring up the tiebreak. The Brit had the lead at points but it was De Minaur that came out on top. The second set was just as tight, with both players breaking serve, however it was the Australian that managed to break again and hold on for the win 7-6(4), 7-5.
Joe Salisbury once again teamed up with Frederik Nielsen. Having won the doubles title in Loughborough, the duo were looking to continue their great run. In the first round they faced the third seeds Luke Bambridge & Jonny O’Mara. The seeds were no match for the Brit/Dane partnership as Salisbury & Nielsen controlled the match and moved into the quarter-finals 6-4, 6-0.
The quarter-final saw the Brit/Dane up against Jonathan Erlich & Jürgen Melzer. Salisbury & Nielsen claimed the first set with just one break of serve. However the second set saw the Israeli/Austrian pair break right at the end to level up the match and force a match tie break. It was the Brit/Dane who eased through to the semi-final 6-4. 5-7, 10-4.
In the semi-final Salisbury & Nielsen were facing the defending champions and top seeds Ken & Neal Skupski. In a rematch of the previous years semi-final it was the seeds who got off to the best start, dominating and getting the first set easily. However, Salisbury & Nielsen were not done and forced a second set tiebreak which they edged to lead to an exciting match tiebreak. The defending champions were trying to make their second Nottingham final, whilst Salisbury & Nielsen were trying to get their second title together. The match tiebreak ebbed and flowed one way then the other, eventually it was the Brit/Dane that prevailed 2-6, 7-6(4), 15-13.
The final saw Salisbury & Nielsen taking on the fourth seeds Austin Krajicek & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. It was the seeds that got the better start, leading the first set 3-0. However the Brit/Dane rallied and pulled back level forcing a tiebreak. Salisbury & Nielsen edged the breaker to take the lead. In the second set the Brit/Dane dominated the set losing only one game to claim their second title together 7-6(5), 6-1.
Heather Watson and Mihaela Buzărnescu paired together in Nottingham, the Brit/Romanian drew the top seeds in the first round. Lyudmyla Kichenok & Alla Kudryavtseva were the much better pair to start with and completely dominated the first set. The Brit/Romanian regrouped for the second to level up the match and force the match tiebreak, by this point Watson & Buzărnescu had gelled. It was the scratch doubles pairing that moved to the quarter-final 1-6, 6-2, 10-4.
The quarter-final saw the Brit/Romanian face Priscilla Hon & Dalila Jakupović. The Australian/Slovenian pair managed to stay toe to toe with Watson & Buzărnescu in the first set, forcing a tiebreak. However it was the Brit/Romanian that dominated the breaker. The second set saw Hon & Jakupović do their best to fight back, however just one break of serve was needed for the Brit/Romanian to progress to the semi-final 7-6(2), 6-3.
In the semi-final Watson & Buzărnescu were up against Lizette Cabrera & Irina Falconi. The Australian/American pushed the Brit/Romanian all the way in the first set before they were broken. By the time the second set was underway Watson & Buzărnescu were on a roll and barely put a foot wrong, moving to the final 7-5, 6-1
The final saw Watson & Buzărnescu against the third seeds Alicja Rosolska & Abigail Spears. The seeds made life really difficult for the Brit/Romanian, after a bright start when Watson & Buzărnescu led 3-0. Rosolska & Spears found another gear winning the next six games and the set. The Brit/Romanian fought hard in the second set and forced a tiebreak, unfortunately it was the seeds who edged the breaker to claim the title 6-3. 7-6(5)
Nottingham Round Up
Cameron Norrie was defeated by Tatsuma Ito in the first round 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Liam Broady was defeated by Alex Ward in the first round 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).
Alex Ward was defeated by Granollers in the second round 6-4, 6-3.
Jay Clarke was defeated by Tobais Kamke in the first round 6-3, 6-3.
James Ward was defeated by fourth seed Ilya Ivashka in the quarter-final 6-4, 6-3.
George Loffhagen was defeated by Peter Polansky in the first round 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Jay Clarke & Marcus Willis were defeated by Mats Moraing & Polansky in the first round 7-6(4), 7-6(5).
Liam Broady & Scott Clayton were defeated by Adrián Menéndez Maceiras & Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 7-5.
Brydan Klein with Ramkumar Ramanathan were defeated by Krajicek & Nedunchezhiyan in the first round 3-6, 6-1, 10-8.
Aidan McHugh & Norrie were defeated by Granollers & Ivashka in the first round 7-5, 6-4.
Laura Robson with Chan Hao-Ching were defeated by Cabrera & Falconi in the first round 7-6(6), 7-6(1).
Katie Boulter & Katie Swan were defeated by Rosolska & Spears in the first round 3-6, 6-2, 10-6.
Johanna Konta with Yanina Wickmayer were defeated by Zarina Diyas & Zheng Saisai in the first round 4-6, 6-3, 10-6.
Next week Brits play in London, Birmingham, Mallorca & Ilkley.
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