Neal & Ken Skupski reach Eckental final

By Glenys Furness

  • Neal & Ken Skupski reached the final in Eckental
  • Dom Inglot & Robert Lindstedt fall in the Semi Final in Paris
  • Mixed fortunes in the Challenger singles

Eckental, Germany. Neal & Ken Skupski progressed to the final of this challenger played on carpet. Dom Inglot & Robert Lindstedt had a good week by progressing to the semi finals of the Paris Masters. David Rice and Brydan Klein were the best performing Brit in the challenger singles reaching the second round in Charlottesville & Canberra.

The Skupski brothers dropped only one set on their way to the final of the Eckental challenger. This was in the quarter final against a wildcard pairing Johannes Haerteis & Daniel Masur. The Brits took the first set before the Germans came back level taking the second set 5-7. It would be settled by a match tiebreak that the Brits won 10-8. The semi final was a comfortable straight sets win for the Brits to set up a final against Ruben Bemelmans  & Philipp Petzschner. The Belgian/German pair were pushed hard by the Skupski brothers in the first set with only a late break of serve the difference in the set 7-5. The second set was more comfortable for the Belgian/German pair as the Brits were not able to keep the pressure on and the set went 6-2. Bemelmans is likely to form one half of the doubles partnership in Ghent as the Belgians take on Britian in the Davis Cup final at the end of the month.

Inglot and Lindstedt did not drop a set on their way to the Semi Final in Paris, their first round saw the Brit/Swede partnership found themselves against Leander Paes & Rafael Nadal. Facing a member of the big four certainly didn’t daunt Inglot & Lindstedt as they comfortably moved to the second round 6-3, 6-4. Once in the Semi final the Brit/Swede team forced a tiebreak against Vasek Pospisil & Jack Sock but the Canadian/American team eventually won that 8-6. The second set saw the North American team run away with the match as the served up a breadstick to Inglot & Lindstedt. Jamie Murray & John Peers as seeds had a bye into the second round, which they lost in two close sets.

Moving to the challenger singles, and there were mixed fortunes for the Brits. James Ward who had come off the back of a title and semi final finishes in India found himself facing the top seed Diego Schwartzman in Guayquil (Ecuador). Ward had chances in the first set and forced the breaker which the Argentine won. The second set saw only one break of serve, unfortunately it was the Brit that dropped serve. In Canberra Klein seeded fourth had a comfortable straight sets first round win, before losing in straight sets the very next round.However, he did have better fortune in the doubles as with Dane Propoggia they were seeded second and progressed to the final. They lost to the top seeds in straight sets.

In Charlottesville Dan Evans, Liam Broady & Joshua Milton all lost in the first round. Evans and Milton both lost out in straight sets, whilst Broady served up a bagel in the first set but couldn’t continue the momentum and lost the next two. Rice who came through qualifying and into the main draw found himself against the second seed James Duckworth, after losing the first set 4-6 the Brit pulled the match round taking the next two sets 6-4, 6-2 to score the biggest win of his career so far.

The second round match saw a reversal as Rice took the first set 6-2 but then dropped the next two. Rice & Marcus Willis drew  the top seeds in the doubles and lost in the first round. Milton & Bjorn Fratangelo made it as far as the quarter finals where they ran into the third seeds who served up a double breadstick. Daniel Smethurst & Darren Walsh also progressed to the quarter finals where they ran into the fourth seeds Joe Salisbury & David O’hare who made it to the semi finals before losing in straight sets to the second seeds who had knocked out Broady & Evans in the first round.

Qualification has started in the Knoxville challenger. Smethurst is seeded seventh and in the first qualification round was pushed hard by Jared Hiltzik. The American took the first set 5-7 before the Brit fought back to force tiebreaks in the remaining sets, taking the first 8-6 and the final set 14-12.  Willis is eighth seed and had an easier match than Smethurst as he defeated American Raymond Sarmiento in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Milton is fourth seed and also progressed in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, Rice was unfortunately unable to join them in the next round as he went out in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to the sixth seed.

Brits will be in action this week in challenger events in Bratislava, Buenos Aires, Kobe & Knoxville

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