It’s never too late to make your mark on the ATP Challenger Tour’s doubles circuit. At the age of 30, Ariel Behar is discovering that with authority.
Behar picked up where he left off before the COVID-19 break, adding yet another title to his burgeoning haul. He teamed with Andrey Golubev to triumph in Todi on Saturday, as the Uruguayan-Kazakh duo did not drop a set all week.
Projected to rise to a career-high of No. 68 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings, Behar is the hottest player on the Challenger doubles circuit. His victory at the Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Todi marked his fifth title in his last eight Challenger appearances. In that span, he has amassed a staggering 26-3 record, mostly with Ecuador’s Gonzalo Escobar.
Wawrinka Claims First Trophy Of Challenger Restart
“It’s very important that we’re back playing now,” said Behar during Saturday’s trophy ceremony. “The safety measures and security in Todi were very well organised and I thank the tournament for that. We hope that the circuit will be this successful in the coming months.”
Behar has now lifted seven Challenger trophies in the last 12 months. Exactly one year ago, he triumphed in Prague and proceeded to prevail in Genova, Santo Domingo, Lima, Guayaquil and Newport Beach – all with Escobar.
Hanfmann, Zapata Miralles To Battle For Singles Crown
The singles final at the Tennis Club Todi 1971 will feature Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann and Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles.
Hanfmann, a former World No. 99 and ATP Tour finalist at the 2017 Swiss Open Gstaad, has dropped just one set in reaching the championship match. He dismissed home hope Gian Marco Moroni in Saturday’s nightcap, needing one hour and 36 minutes to prevail 7-6(4), 6-1. Hanfmann, who is hoping to rediscover his Top 100 form as 2020 rolls on, is back in a Challenger final for the second time this year. He finished runner-up to Taro Daniel in Burnie in January. The former University of Southern California standout owns a 5-2 record in Challenger finals.
Photos: Marta Magni/MEF Tennis Events
Zapata Miralles, meanwhile, is enjoying a breakout week at the age of 23. The World No. 212 is into his second Challenger final, having previously fallen to Botic van de Zandschulp in Hamburg last year. The Spaniard has dropped just 15 games en route to the final, culminating with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Antoine Hoang in the semi-finals. Earlier in the week, he routed top seed and countryman Roberto Carballes Baena for his third Top 100 win.
“I really like Todi’s playing conditions,” said the Valencia native. “I love this clay and I am happy with the balls we use. The results show that it was easy from the first round, but the truth is that I gave my best to reach the final. At this point, to win the title I will have to do this once again, putting aside the tension of the final and without thinking about the result.”
Hanfmann and Zapata Miralles will meet for the first time, with the final scheduled for 8:30pm CET in Todi.