Polish tennis player, Kacper Žuk, is the winner of the third edition of the ATP Challenger Split Open after he defeated Mathias Bourgue in two sets in today's final.
While last week's edition of the Split Challenger was marked by the Slovenes (Blaž Rola defeated Blaž Kavčič in the final), this week it went to the Poles. On Saturday, Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski won the doubles tournament, and on Sunday, Kacper Žuk secured the title of best in singles by defeating Mathias Bourgue 6:4, 6:2.
The 22-year-old, from Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki in central Poland, has played really great in the past two weeks, winning 10 of 11 matches played. At the last tournament in Split, he was eliminated in the semifinals by Kavčič, and this week he reached the trophy from the qualifications. On that trip, he lost only one set to Ymer in the semifinals in the "tie break".
- It's been two great weeks for me. I didn't expect such good results because I prefer faster surfaces, so it's nice to know that I can play well on the ground as well - said Žuk, who will advance from 212th place to approximately 172nd on the latest ATP list, which will be the best ranking of his career. .
Although Žuk opened the final match with 2:0, Bourgue was more aggressive in the beginning and that immediately brought him back into the game. He equalized at 2:2 and was better than Žuk in the following games, but he failed to capitalize on that. At 3:2 he had as many as four "break" opportunities, at 4:3 another, but Žuk saved them all. The penalty for missing, Bourgue got promptly. In the next game, the Pole took the serve from him and shortly afterwards won the set 6:4.
These were the key moments of the match because Žuk started the second set with a "break" and a 2-0 lead. He played completely from the baseline, he mixed nicely by going out on the net and with a few shortened balls, and the Frenchman ran out of ideas. Luck also left Bourgue, so he lost the serve again at 1:3, so that at the "break" chance, his ball got stuck in the net and ended up in out. Žuk kept the advantage of two "breaks" without any problems and after 85 minutes of play he celebrated the biggest title of his career. Given how he develops and progresses, we are sure that this is only the first in a series and that we will soon see him in major tournaments around the world.
- The first set was very important, there were a lot of equal games, but I knew I would win the second set if I played my tennis. I hope that this will not be my last title this season - said Žuk, who really likes the city of Split.
- I am from the center of Poland and it was really nice here by the sea. People are kind, the organization is great and I felt comfortable - added Žuk, who took home 6190 euros and 84 points (80 for the title and 4 for passing the qualifications).
As for the defeated Bourgue, he will jump from 217th place to 192nd, which means he will return to the Top 200 for the first time in more than three years. His best placement was 140th place.
- This has been a good week for me, the finals are not played every day. I was disappointed with the defeat, and I lost the first set because I was too nervous. In the second, Žuk played much better than me. Unlike my last arrival in Split, this time I had a better approach and that is why I reached the finals. I will continue to work hard and, I hope, get as close as possible to the Top 100 - said the 27-year-old Frenchman who remains with two titles in the Challengers, and for consolation he will get 3650 euros and 48 points.
Tournament director Ismar Moralić gave the final word, not hiding his satisfaction with the work done:
- In the first week we had the Slovenian final, first on the Tour, and in the second all the winners from Poland. These are two beautiful stories. As for Žuk, the guy is diverse and has almost no weak point. I believe that we launched another career because, let us remember, Split was the first Challenger won last year for Cerundol. I am sure that we will hear more about Žuk in the future. Overall, we are very happy with the tournament, we watched top tennis. Everything that could be under our control, we did and professionally and in the right way, to make the players feel comfortable here.