Portugal’s Nuno Borges closed his 2023 season in the best possible way: winning an ATP Challenger Tour title on home soil.
The 26-year-old dropped just one set all week en route to winning the Maia Open, where he downed Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Borges also won Challenger titles in Monterrey, Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona, where he lifted the first title of the all-new 175 category.
"It’s definitely the best season of my career,” Borges said. “Last year I had the chance to play some ATP tournaments and the Grand Slams, but in 2023 I was a regular on the tour and got to live amazing experiences like facing [Carlos] Alcaraz in Barcelona or [Stefanos] Tsitsipas in Rome, the kind of matches that make me feel what it's like to play at the highest level. And in 2024 I'll be looking for more."
In addition to the great success Borges already tasted this year, his clay-court triumph at home is a memory that the World No. 66 will not soon forget.
“Right after winning the match point I started thinking about all the moments I lived here. I spent countless hours [here],” Borges said. “Watching the Davis Cup, being a ball kid in a Davis Cup tie. To become part of the group of champions here in Maia is something I'll always cherish, especially because it happened in front of my family and my childhood friends. It's definitely something very special for me and I'll never forget it."
In other ATP Challenger Tour action Sunday, Aleksandar Kovacevic became the fifth player to win four titles at that level in 2023, joining Mariano Navone (5), Facundo Diaz Acosta (4), Thiago Seyboth Wild (4) and Alejandro Tabilo (4).
Kovacevic, 25, rallied past Brazilian Gilbert Klier Junior 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Challenger Dove Men+Care Temuco final. The former University of Illinois standout needed a deciding set in three of his five matches to lift the trophy.
Kovacevic also triumphed in Cleveland, Waco and Shenzhen this season and closes the year at World No. 110, nine spots shy of tying his career high. He is the second American to win four Challenger titles in a season (Justin Gimelstob, 2004).
Aleksandar Kovacevic wins his fourth ATP Challenger Tour title of 2023 in Temuco, Chile. Credit: Challenger Dove Men+Care Temuco
Belgian Zizou Bergs lifted his third Challenger trophy of the year by winning the Yokkaichi, Japan, where he downed American Michael Mmoh 6-2, 7-6(2) in the final.
Bergs, who is No. 129 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, suffered a left wrist injury in July which forced him to hit only slice backhands for three months. Since returning to full health last month, the 24-year-old has won 12 of his past 14 matches with two title runs.
Zizou Bergs wins the Yokkaichi Challenger. Credit: Yokkaichi Challenger
In Maspalomas, Spain, home favourite Pedro Martinez treated the fans to a title run. The 26-year-old overcame Swiss qualifier Kilian Feldbausch 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the eó Hotels Maspalomas Challenger final to capture his second Challenger crown of this year (Brest).
The Maspalomas Challenger marks Martinez’s third triumph at home, having previously won in Marbella in 2020 and Seville in 2021.
Feldbausch, 18, was competing in his first Challenger final and with the title, he would have been behind only Roger Federer as the second-youngest Swiss champion in Challenger history.
Pedro Martinez in action at the Maspalomas Challenger, where he won his fifth title at that level. Credit: eó Hotels Maspalomas Challenger.read full article