Coming from the qualifiers, Ugo Blanchet completed a ground-shaking performance during the second edition of the Malaga Open. The 24-year-old Frenchman clinched the title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mattia Belluci, who also had a stellar week.
Meanwhile, a UK/USA duo of Julian Cash and Robert Galloway smashed their way to the top doubles prize. The not-so-competitive final saw Cash and Galloway defeat the all-Australian duo of Andrew Harris and John-Patrick Smith by 7-5/6-2.
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What are the top takeaways from one of Spain’s biggest sports events this year? What could fans expect from the ATP 2023 season as the year gradually peaks? Discover answers to these and more as we explore the latest 2023 Challenger ATP event in this review.
Malaga Open – The Background
The most important sporting event in Malaga, a port city in Southern Spain, has just completed its second edition successfully — featuring some of the biggest young tennis players from the ATP circuit. Thanks to a recent upgrade, what was formerly the Malaga ATP Challenger 80 tournament is now a Challenger 125 tournament — becoming the country’s fourth-most prestigious tennis event. Only the three leading ATP Tour events – the Madrid Masters 1000 (on clay), the Barcelona ATP 500 (aka the Godo, also on clay), and the Mallorca ATP 250 (in Calivia, on grass) are ranked higher.
Suppose you don’t understand what the ranking systems in tennis mean. This upgrade means that the Malaga Open is now in the second level of tournaments, as Challengers just below the leading ATP events like Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Madrid Masters, plus ATP 500s and 250s. This gives Malaga some bragging rights as one of the most important venues in Spain for tennis.
The Challenger 125 event in Malaga, consequently, can offer three wild-card invitations to players from the world’s top 50 players. Additionally, to the delight of Spaniard tennis fans, it has been announced that the Malaga Open will remain on the calendar over the next three years in its new rank. As such, this event has earned the potential of offering more ATP ranking points and higher prize money compared to its maiden edition. This event gives young, ambitious players an opportunity to gain helpful experience playing against other professionals, while also gaining important ranking points and prize money. Many of the world’s leading players have competed in Challenger events sometime during their careers. From Rafael Nadal to Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, many of these leading players have spent time on the Challenger circuit before making it to the majors and other main tours.
Speaking about last year’s event, the competition’s dates were held alongside Wimbledon, which affected its popularity in the news. To boost its prominence this year, the 2023 edition was held during a national holiday long weekend, the Puente de Pilar. It was also held during the second week of the Masters 1000 in Shanghai, allowing drop-outs in the top 50 to attend if they so wished.
The tennis tournament, which was played on hard courts, was part of the 2023 ATP Challenger Tour and held October 9-15, 2023.
Malaga Open: Prize Money
The recent upgrade of the Malaga Open meant good things for the country’s reputation as a top destination for tennis tournaments. Beyond that, the upgrade also meant that participants – and winners – enjoyed an increase in prize money. Let’s see what the cash numbers looked like for participants in the just-concluded Malaga Challenger.
Winners Ugo Blanchet and Julian Cash and Robert Galloway earned 125 ranking points, transmissible into 19,650 EUR. Meanwhile, making it to the final gave the runner-ups 75 points – effectively 11,570 EUR. Semifinalists earned 45 points, which is equivalent to 6,850 EUR; quarter-finalists snagged 25 points and 3,990 EUR. No participant walked away without some form of reward, as the second-round awards 11 points worth 2,345 EUR and first-rounders got 1,420 EUR even with no points to their credit.
Eyes on the Finals
The ATP Finals 2023, which conclude the ATP Tour season, feature the top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams based on their results throughout the year. When necessary, the finals include a reserved eighth spot for a player or team that won a major during the year and finished ranked between positions ninth and 20th. Schedules show that the Nitto ATP Finals will be held in Turin, Italy November 12-19, 2023. Meanwhile, the NextGen ATP Finals, which will take place November 28-December 2, 2023, are scheduled to be held in Jeddah.
The Top Things We Learned from the Tournament This Year
Now that the Malaga Challenger has come and gone, here are some of the things we have learned from it:
– Malaga was an amazing host. Throughout the tournament, Malaga showed itself as a great host and a likely destination for future events with its charm, hospitality, and serene environment. No doubt the ATP will consider future tennis events at this site.
– The future of tennis is in good hands. With the emergence of many future tennis stars whose talents were on full display at this year’s events, it’s fair to say that fans can rest assured that the future of the sport is safe. In both the singles and double categories, we witnessed many incredible performances from young stars who will definitely go on to become superstars in the future.
– Ugo Blanchet looks destined for the top. Apart from the fact that Blanchet won the 2023 Malaga Open, his overall display shows the Frenchman is destined for greatness. He plays with the swagger and focus of a tennis star. His resilience, hard work, and perseverance to dig in and achieve his wins against all odds remind us of a young Novak Djokovic. All things being equal, the French star will be a name to be reckoned with in the tennis world in the near future.
The Malaga 2023 Open is poised to maintain its newly achieved Challenger 125 status over the next three years. While there is no information on the future of the event after 2026, Spaniards and tennis fans from around the world can expect a thrilling ATP event in the city of Malaga that hosts some of the world’s best young tennis players in the meantime.