By Florian Heer

Alexander Shevchenko’s long journey from Melbourne to the Canary Islands paid off. The 22-year-old, who fell in the first round of the qualifying at the Australian Open to Jan-Lennard Struff, claimed the title of the Tenerife Challenger I. Shevchenko defeated Sebastian Ofner from Austria 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday afternoon.

In perfect weather conditions with a lot of sunshine, temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius and in great atmosphere on Centre Court of the Abama Tennis Academy in Guía de Isora, Shevchenko was the better player right from the beginning.

The World No. 157 set the tone early, broke Ofner’s service in the fifth game but couldn’t serve the opening set out in the 10th game after missing a couple of baseline shots. However, Shevchenko stayed calm and took the set two games later after one hour and 10 minutes.

Shevchenko carried the momentum of winning set one into the second set and gained another early break in the first game. Ofner came back again but the youngster showed his fighting spirit and a great display of tennis to eventually close the match out, winning 55 per cent of the total points played in one hour and 48 minutes.

Winning in great atmosphere

“Today’s match was very really tough,” said Shevchenko, who is based in Austria and coached by Günter Bresnik, but was accompanied by his father during his stay in Tenerife.

“I knew Sebastian is a great player and I had to be aggressive. I also had to win some of the points on my defence, what I did. I served and returned well, that’s why I won today.

“The crowd was amazing. I hope that every Challenger would have a crowd like this. It was great, a lot of fun and many emotions I will remember for the rest of my career.”

By lifting his second ATP Challenger career trophy following his maiden triumph in Bratislava, Slovakia in April last year, Shevchenko pocketed €16,020 in prize money as well as 100 ATP Ranking points.

“I am close to the Top 100, but I still have to work hard to achieve it,” Shevchenko said.

Ofner, who appeared in his eighth Challenger career final, earned € 9,415 in prize money as well as 60 ATP Ranking points.

The Tenerife Challenger series will continue January 29 with an ATP Challenger 75 tournament.

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