Canada’s Gabriel Diallo Wins First ATP Challenger Event
Canadian youngster Gabriel Diallo secured his first ATP Challenger title on Sunday and surged up the rankings in the process.
The 20-year-old from Montreal upset the sixth-seeded Juncheng Shang in a tense final 7-5, 7-6(5) in Granby, Quebec.
Diallo, who was using the tournament to gain more experience after receiving a wild card entry, will move up 183 places in the ATP rankings to a new career-high of 335 in the world, having started the month at 665.
Despite failing to see out the match when serving at 6-5 up in the second set, the Canadian kept 70% of his first serves in play, winning 76 per cent of those points and firing down 10 aces.
The six-foot-seven youngster only lost one point in the second set tie-break and secured the title with a mini-break on Shang’s serve.
Diallo, kicked off the tournament on Wednesday with a win over compatriot Dan Martin in the opening round before beating Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Aziz Dougaz of Tunisia and Japan’s Hiroki Moriya to set up the match with Shang.
“This was something new for me because I won my first Challenger match last week (in Vancouver),” said Diallo. “I played free and I went out to have fun. It reminded me of what it was like playing as a kid.”
Diallo played three tiebreakers over the five matches and said he was lucky to win all of them.
“It could have ended at any time,” he said. “I faced a match point in the second round but I managed to come back and win.”
The prize money for winning the men’s event was $7,500, but Diallo was unable to accept it because it would jeopardize his college eligibility.
/Stewart Sports news editor