Serb Medjedovic joins Czech as teen titlist last week

Two teenagers on the ATP Challenger Tour capped a historic week Sunday, when they each were crowned champions on European clay.

Wild card Jakub Mensik completed a dream run on home soil at the Prague Challenger while Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic dropped just one set all week en route to capturing his second title of the season at the Mauthausen Challenger.

Mensik, 17, became the youngest Czech Challenger champion in history. In just his sixth Challenger main-draw appearance, Mensik ousted top seed Radu Albot in the opening round before embarking on a title run. But things didn’t look so positive in the quarter-finals, where Mensik fended off two match points to survive qualifier Akira Santillan.

In Sunday’s final, Mensik defeated German Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-3 to triumph at the TK Sparta Prague Open.

"It's the biggest achievement of my career so far. I'm glad I did it here,” Mensik said. “I had my family and a lot of fans here and I felt a lot of support from them. I was confident from the beginning to the end, I'm very happy I managed to [win] and I'll keep working hard.”

The 2022 Australian Open boys’ singles finalist Mensik rises to a career-high No. 248 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and joins elite company with his title in Prague, where he became the youngest Challenger champion this season. The only 17-year-old Challenger titlists in the past five years are: Jannik Sinner (2019), Carlos Alcaraz (2020), Shang Juncheng (2022), and Mensik.

The only previous 17-year-old Czech champion was Tomas Berdych, who captured two Challenger titles in 2003.

The 19-year-old Medjedovic downed three Austrians en route to the clay-court title, including a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 final victory against Filip Misolic. In the last four, Medjedovic upset top seed and former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem at the Danube Upper Austria Open powered by SKE.

“I can't even describe the feeling, it's just incredible,” Medjedovic said after the final. “The win against Dominic was a big highlight, but today's success means everything to me.

“Filip fought back and made life difficult for me, but I was able to rely on my serve and forehand. I'm overjoyed that it worked out.”

The #NextGenATP star, who fired 18 aces in the final, is the third Serbian teenager to win a trio of Challenger titles, joining Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic. Following his title in Austria, Medjedovic rises to a career-high No. 165 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

At the Head Busan Open in South Korea, Aleksandar Vukic captured the Challenger 125 event. In an all-Aussie final, Vukic was crowned champion after Max Purcell was forced to retire at 6-4, 1-0. The 25-year-old Purcell was suffering from an ankle injury he suffered in the late stages of the first set.

Vukic, who rises to a career-high No. 101 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, is a two-time Challenger champion (Bengaluru 2022). The Sydney native has won 10 of his past 12 matches, with both losses coming to Chinese teenager Yunchaokete Bu. In the Busan quarters, Vukic saved three match points en route to a 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 victory against second seed Christopher Eubanks.

Purcell has competed in six Challenger finals this year, winning three of them. The 2022 Wimbledon men’s doubles champion (w/ Matthew Ebden) holds a season-leading 34-7 Challenger-level match record.

On the Italian clay, Alejandro Tabilo lifted his second Challenger title after downing Benoit Paire 6-1, 7-5 in the final at the Internazionali di Tennis Francavilla al Mare.

The Chilean, seeded third, didn’t drop a set en route to the Challenger 75 title. Tabilo has won nine of his past 10 matches, after a finalist finish at last month’s Florianopolis Challenger. The 25-year-old, who reached a career-high 64 last season, ended his four-match skid in Challenger finals to capture his first Challenger title since November 2021 (Guayaquil).

“Many thanks to the whole team for the endurance and all the work these months,” Tabilo wrote in an Instagram post Sunday. “It’s been a rough road but we’re slowly moving forward.”