Last week we saw two Australians win ATP Challenger titles, this week we have seen Maverick Banes win the title in Gwanju, a $50,000 level tournament and Jason Kubler has reached the final in Vancouver at a $100,000 ATP Challenger event.
Banes had earlier in the tournament knocked out Alexei Popyrin who was aiming to win back-to-back titles after winning the $150,000 Jinan Challenger title.
Banes had gone into the Gwanju tournament after 8 first round losses at Challenger level and wasn’t expected to go all the way to the final. But that is what he did and he found himself against a Korean qualifier Ji Sung Nam who is ranked at 544, with Banes at 284.
The Korean had not been past the quarter-finals at the Challenger level since his first Challenger tournament back in 2009. All of his quarter-final appearances took place on home soil so you could have bet on at least a quarter-final showing for this tournament.
In the final it was Banes who got the first break, it came with Nam serving at 2-3. Banes had three break points at 0-40 before Nam got to 30-40 before he hit wide to concede the break. Banes eventually served out the set to love when serving at 5-3.
In the second set the Australian looked to be cruising to the title after breaking twice to hold a commanding 4-1 lead. It all went wrong from there as Nam ran off five straight games to level the match at a set apiece.
Games went with serve early in the deciding set. During the change of ends at 2-1 Nam called for the trainer and took a medical timeout. He appeared to be receiving treatment for a leg injury. When he returned to court he looked to not be able to push off as well as earlier in the match.
Serving at 2-2 Nam opened the game by hitting a ball so far out that it missed the doubles court, he then hit another unforced error missing by a large margin. Banes brought up three break points with a down the line winner and then Nam hit into the net to give Banes a 3-2 lead.
Banes held the advantage and had a look at a match point with Nam serving at 3-5, 30-40. Nam found a bit of extra power on his groundstrokes and force Banes to hit wide. At 5-4 Bane was serving for the match. He was taken to deuce before earning another match point, this time he served an ace to claim his first ATP Challenger title winning the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
The 80 rankings points awarded to the champion will see Banes rise to a career-high ranking of around 216.