ATP Challenger Tour: Five unforgettable moments from 2022 | ATP Tour

ATP Challenger Tour: Five unforgettable moments from 2022 | ATP Tour

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There was no shortage of historic moments on the ATP Challenger Tour this season. From crowning champions who showcased their talents at the season’s most prestigious events, to Argentina’s record-breaking 23 titles or Li Tu’s emotional victory in Seoul.

As the 2023 season approaches, takes a look back at five memorable moments from this year’s ATP Challenger Tour.

ATP Tour and Challenger Tour champions
Six players, including Borna Coric and Holger Rune, have won Challenger Tour and Tour-level tournament titles.

Coric, who won the Parma Challenger in June, upset three top-10 players en route to winning the title in Cincinnati and became the first player since 1993 to win a Challenger and an ATP Masters 1000 title in the same season. And then it was the turn of the Danish teenager in Bercy.

Rune, 19, won the Sanremo Challenger in April before moving up to three tour-level titles including the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris.

Four other men were also crowned champions at both levels: Yoshihito Nishioka, Marc-Andrea Huesler, Francisco Cerundolo and Lorenzo Musetti.

<a href=Lorenzo Musetti is crowned champion at the Forli-6 Challenger 2022.” />
Lorenzo Musetti is crowned champion at the 2022 Forli-6 Challenger. Photo credit: Riccardo Lolli

Argentina’s record-breaking 23 titles
Earlier this season, the previous record for most challengers by a single country in one season, 20, was equaled four times (France 2005, Argentina 2007, 2016, 2021). After tying the record for a third time in 2021, the Argentinian players have set their sights on being the sole champions in the Challenger Tour record books. After breaking the record in late October, Argentine players added two more trophies and ended 2022 with 23 Challenger titles.

Pedro Cachin, 27, held four Challenger titles (shared with Jack Draper) in the season at the helm and was the only Argentine to win more than two titles this season. Cachin, ranked 57th in the world, won titles in Madrid, Prague, Todi and Santo Domingo.

“Most Challenger titles in a year is incredible,” said Cachin. “It’s great to give all players the opportunity to be part of something so special. It’s not easy for our players to travel the world and be far from home, but having this achievement is well worth it.

<a href=Pedro Cachin in action in Sunday’s Santo Domingo Challenger final.” />
Pedro Cachin in action during the Santo Domingo Challenger final. Photo credit: David A Martinez

“Especially for the younger guys to see that Argentina has the ability and the potential to win a lot of titles. Hopefully this will increase the enthusiasm of the Argentine players for this great sport. It is a privilege for us to be part of this great moment. The guys have worked hard and their talent is now showing.”

Li Tu dedicates Challenger title to his late mother
The Australian’s journey to the ATP Challenger Tour was a one-of-a-kind journey. In 2014, Tu found success at the junior level, but the then 18-year-old decided to put down his racquets to pursue a college degree and a coaching business, leading to a six-year hiatus from professional tennis.

Without Tu’s close friend who would have had a heartfelt chat with him two years ago, he might never have returned to professional tennis and would have enjoyed the success he has found this year.

After losing his mother in September, Tu traveled to South Korea the day after her funeral. He didn’t know what the Korean challenger swing had in store for him.

<a href=Li Tu is crowned champion at Seoul Challenger 2022.” />
Li Tu wins Seoul Challenger 2022. Credit: Do Won Kim

At the Seoul Challenger, Tu’s seventh Challenger appearance, the 26-year-old advanced through qualifying en route to his first title. Tu dedicated the win to his mother, who would have celebrated her birthday the day after his title.

Shang Juncheng saves Ballkid
Chinese teenager and American Stefan Dostanic were locked in a three-set fight in scorching temperatures in the US state of Kentucky when Shang noticed a ball kid, Atharva Dang, in distress.

After asking Atharva if he was alright, Shang exclaimed, “He’s going to faint!” Immediately, Shang put down his racquet and helped the overheated boy, scooping him up in his arms and rushing him behind the umpire’s chair and out the direct sunlight. After setting him down in the shade, Shang gave Atharva a bottle of water and put an ice pack behind his head.

Shang Juncheng meets ball kid Atharva Dang again.
Shang Juncheng and ball kid Atharva Dang at the Lexington Challenger. Photo credit: Rena Behr

The day after that sporting moment, Shang and the ball kid got back together for a photo. While Dang was competing at a local tournament this weekend, the Beijing native was crowned champion at the Lexington Challenger. Shang became the youngest player to win a Challenger title since Carlos Alcaraz in Alicante in 2020 and the youngest Chinese champion in Challenger Tour history.

Shelbayh secures history
At the Rafa Nadal Open by Sotheby’s, 18-year-old Abdullah Shelbayh became the first player from Jordan to win a match in ATP Challenger Tour history.

“It’s surreal,” said Shelbayh after beating top seed Dominic Stricker. “To do something for your country is a great achievement. Coming from a small country where tennis is not a big sport, being in the history of my country means a lot to me. I never really thought about getting into the match, but it feels great. I hope that many players from Jordan will show their talent in the near future and I can inspire them as much as possible.”

Abdullah Shelbayh celebrates a historic win at the Mallorca Challenger.
Abdullah Shelbayh celebrates his first Challenger Tour victory. Credit: Alvaro Diaz/Rafa Nadal Academy

Although his first Challenger win was a long way from his Jordanian homeland, it was only fitting that he came to Rafa Nadal Academy, where Shelbayh has been training since he was 14.

The academy graduate was a semi-finalist at the Mallorca Challenger, where he lost to Zizou Bergs.

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