Several young stars are battling for the remaining four spots left in the Next Gen ATP Finals, including Alex Michelsen, Luciano Darderi and Luca Nardi, who all won ATP Challenger Tour titles on Sunday.
Michelsen will forever remember his triumph at Knoxville Challenger, where the 19-year-old overcame countryman Denis Kudla 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in the final to not only win his second ATP Challenger Tour title, but also seal a spot in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“I was focussed on [making the Top 100] but I had bad weeks and I honestly didn’t think it would come this quickly,” Michelsen told commentator Mike Cation. “After last week in Charlottesville, I played a bad match and I didn’t think I’d be here. But I fought my ass off the entire week and I made it. I’ve worked for this, so it feels good.”
The #NextGenATP star, who officially turned pro in August, is ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Jeddah as he aims to earn his maiden qualification into the Next Gen ATP Finals. Michelsen scored his first ATP Challenger Tour title in July in Chicago and the following week, the California native competed in his maiden ATP Tour final in Newport.
At 19 years, 2 months, the World No. 99 Michelsen is the youngest American to win multiple Challenger titles in a season since the-then 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe in 2018.
Michelsen is the fifth consecutive American champion at the Knoxville Challenger, joining Ben Shelton, Christopher Eubanks, Michael Mmoh and Reilly Opelka.
The Italian Darderi overcame Argentine Mariano Navone 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the Directv Open Lima in Peru to win his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the season (Todi). At 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah, Darderi’s title run strengthens his claim towards qualifying for the 21-and-under event, which runs from 28 November-December 2.
Luciano Darderi in action at the Directv Open Lima, where he won his second ATP Challenger Tour title. Credit: @igmachallengers
Sunday’s three-set final in Lima was a battle between two of the most successful players on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2023. Darderi and Navone are two of just three players in the 40-win club this year: Francisco Comesana (45), Darderi (42), Navone (40).
The 21-year-old Darderi held his nerve in a two-hour, 54-minute final to lift the trophy and climb to a career-high No. 124.
Navone, 22, was aiming to add to his season-leading six ATP Challenger Tour titles. Despite falling short in the Lima final,…