The margins are razor skinny between the ATP Challenger Tour and Tour-level gamers.
Whereas each tennis participant desires of competing beneath the brilliant lights and on huge phases, they need to first pave their pathway on the Challenger Tour. Tennis legends like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic all began on the Challenger circuit earlier than embarking on illustrious careers.
This season, gamers reminiscent of Holger Rune, Wu Yibing, and Jack Draper loved nice success at not solely Challenger Tour occasions, but in addition on the season’s 4 Grand Slams.
ATPTour.com critiques 5 gamers who went from Challengers to having fun with a breakthrough second at a significant in 2022.
Coming into the season, the Danish teen was outdoors the High 100 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and was nonetheless searching for his first Grand Slam foremost draw victory. It didn’t take Rune lengthy to rise to a career-high 10 in November following a standout yr.
Rune was one in every of simply 9 youngsters to gather a Challenger title this yr. In April, the-then 18-year-old triumphed on the Sanremo Challenger, the place he dropped only one set en path to the title and defeated Italian teenager Francesco Passaro within the ultimate.
Passaro (left) and Rune on the 2022 Sanremo Challenger trophy presentation. Credit score: Sanremo Challenger
Just one man has earned extra Challenger titles than Rune earlier than his nineteenth birthday: Richard Gasquet (7). Rune, who’s a five-time Challenger champion, was one in every of six males to say a Challenger and Tour-level title in 2022.
A month after profitable the Challenger 80 occasion in Italy, Rune collected his first Tour-level crown (Munich) and was a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, the place he upset fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After being sidelined for 3 years as a consequence of accidents and the pandemic, the 23-year-old loved a career-best season that earned him a nomination for the ATP Comeback Participant Of The Yr.
Wu went on a 15 match-winning streak on the Challenger-level and picked up three consecutive titles: Orlando, Rome, Indianapolis. The Chinese language star carried his momentum into his Grand Slam debut at Flushing Meadows, the place he and countryman Zhang Zhizhen battled by means of qualifying to develop into the primary Chinese language males to compete within the US Open foremost draw within the Open Period.
Wu Yibing is topped champion on the 2022 Orlando Challenger. Credit score: Orlando Open
The Hangzhou native reached the third spherical, the place he confronted defending champion Daniil Medvedev beneath the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Medvedev went on to win in straight units however Wu’s run on the US Open shall be remembered as a significant milestone in Chinese language tennis.
“It’s been a tricky few years for me,” Wu advised ATPTour.com in August. “I actually suffered from accidents and Covid in China. It looks like I can nonetheless play a little bit little bit of tennis. I’m pleased about what I did [at the US Open]. I like the individuals right here, the group. Many Chinese language individuals got here to assist, I find it irresistible.”
No one completed the yr with a greater profitable proportion on the Challenger Tour than Draper. The 20-year-old boasted a 24-4 Challenger match-winning file and picked up a season-leading 4 Challenger titles (tied w/ Pedro Cachin): Forli-2, Forli-4, Forli-5, and Saint-Brieuc. The lefty cracked the High 100 for the primary time this summer time amidst a fast rise on the ATP Tour.
Jack Draper collected 4 Challenger titles this season, together with on the Saint-Brieuc Challenger.” />
Jack Draper triumphs on the Saint-Brieuc Challenger. Credit score: Philippe Kermoal
Shortly after incomes his maiden Grand Slam main-draw victory at his dwelling event, Wimbledon, Draper discovered success on the North American laborious courts, together with on the US Open, the place he shocked sixth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime within the second spherical.
Tim Van Rijthoven
In February, the Dutchman superior by means of qualifying en path to a runner-up end on the Forli-4 Challenger (l. Draper). A number of months later, Van Rijthoven received the ATP 250 occasion in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the place he upset the High-3 seeded gamers: Taylor Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, and Medvedev. Van Rijthoven turned one in every of six males since 2007 to win an ATP Tour title earlier than being topped champion on the Challenger stage.
The 25-year-old’s grass court docket success continued on the All England Membership. Van Rijthoven reached the fourth spherical at Wimbledon and pushed eventual champion Novak Djokovic to 4 units.
Wimbledon, the place he reached the fourth spherical.” />
Tim van Rijthoven in motion at Wimbledon. Credit score: Adrian Dennis/Getty Photos
On the season’s ultimate Slam, Van Rijthoven received a dramatic opening spherical five-setter. The Dutchman rallied from two units to like down and saved seven match factors to defeat Zhang. Van Rijthoven misplaced within the subsequent spherical to eventual finalist Casper Ruud.
Though the Spaniard didn’t compete on the Challenger stage in 2022, his fast rise from the Challenger Tour to Grand Slam champion received’t quickly be forgotten.
Alcaraz, who’s the youngest year-end No. 1 within the historical past of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, discovered early success on the Challenger Tour. A four-time Challenger titlist, Alcaraz cracked the High 100 for the primary time following his title on the Oeiras Challenger in Might 2021. The 19-year-old additionally collected the title on the 2020 Alicante, Barcelona, and Trieste Challengers.
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“There are plenty of factors at stake on the Challenger stage,” Alcaraz advised ATPTour.com after profitable the Trieste Challenger. “To play at such a excessive stage in opposition to actually good gamers… It’s good preparation for after I compete on the greatest tournaments.”
Even the highest-ranked participant within the sport started his skilled journey on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Carlos Alcaraz” />
Carlos Alcaraz lifts his maiden Grand Slam trophy in New York Metropolis. Credit score: Julian Finney/Getty Photos