Kovalik wins third title of season, Ramos-Vinolas returns to winners' circle

#NextGenATP Learner Tien and Gabriel Debru will not soon forget their Sunday triumphs on the ATP Challenger Tour. The American Tien claimed the Cranbrook Tennis Classic in Michigan while Debru won on home soil at the Internationaux de Tennis de Troyes, becoming two of the three youngest champions on the ATP Challenger Tour this year.

Tien, 18, needed a deciding set in all five of his matches, earning a final victory against 19-year-old countryman Nishesh Basavareddy 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to claim his maiden ATP Challenger Tour crown. In just the third final in Challenger history to feature two American teenagers, Tien fought back from a set and a break down to lift the trophy.

"Fifteen sets in five matches, went the distance in all of them. I was just really happy and relieved to get through all of them," Tien said. "I'm really happy to get my first Challenger. That was one of the goals that I wanted to cross off my list this year."

A two-time major boys’ singles finalist, Tien is the youngest American Challenger champion since 2016, when an 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe won in Granby, Canada. Tien, who arrived at the Bloomfield Hills Challenger after three consecutive trophies at ITF M15 level, is the 10th-youngest American Challenger champion since 1990.

The lefty is up 14 spots to eleventh in the PIF ATP Live Race To Jeddah. Tien is aiming for his maiden trip to the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by PIF, which runs from 18-22 December in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The 18-year-old Debru became the youngest French Challenger champion since 2017 by winning in Troyes. The home favourite, 25th in the PIF ATP Live Race To Jeddah, ousted Kazakh Timofey Skatov 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-5 in the final.

Gabriel Debru is crowned champion at the Troyes Challenger.
Gabriel Debru is crowned champion at the Troyes Challenger. Credit: Internationaux de Tennis de Troyes

The only Frenchmen to win a Challenger title at a younger age than Debru are Richard Gasquet, Fabrice Santoro, Gael Monfils and Corentin Moutet.

Youngest ATP Challenger Tour champions in 2024

Player Age Title
Joel Schwaerzler 18 years, three months Skopje
Gabriel Debru 18 years, six months Troyes
Learner Tien 18 years, seven months Bloomfield Hills

In other ATP Challenger Tour action, Murkel Dellien captured his first title at that level with a dominant run at the Ion Tiriac Challenger in Brasov, Romania. The Bolivian, who did not drop a set all week, downed Kazakh Dmitry Popko 6-3, 7-5 in the championship match. A 2021 graduate of Wichita State University, the 26-year-old Dellien is up to No. 164 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings, setting him up for a Top 200 debut.

Slovakian Jozef Kovalik earned his third Challenger title of the season at the Tennis Open Karlsruhe in Germany. Seeded second, the 31-year-old defeated Argentine Camilo Ugo Carabelli 6-3, 7-6(2) in the final to become one of five players to win a trio of Challenger titles in 2024.

Kovalik is up to No. 103 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings. The nine-time Challenger champion is aiming to return to the Top 100 for the first time since February 2019.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas collected his eighth Challenger crown and first since 2015 at the Modena Challenger, where the top seed overcame Italian Federico Arnaboldi 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the final. The 36-year-old Spaniard is the oldest Challenger champion this season.