Estonia's Mark Lajal wins ATP Challenger 75 tournament in Little Rock, USA

Mark Lajal.
Mark Lajal. Source: UAMS Health Little Rock Open

Estonia's top male tennis player, 20-year-old Mark Lajal (ATP No. 311), scored the biggest tournament win of his career so far, triumphing at the ATP Challenger 75 in Little Rock, USA.

In the final, Lajal defeated Kazakhstan's Beibit Zhukayev (ATP No. 325) in two sets, 6-4, 7-5.

"First of all, congratulations to Beibit, you had a good week. I'm sorry that the final went the way it did, but it was a good match!" Lajal said after the match. "Thanks to my team. It hasn't always been easy for us, but I'm thankful they are always there for me. Without you I wouldn't be here!"

Lajal, who had already won three ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournaments prior to Little Rock, has now become only the third Estonian to record victory in an ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Challenger competition. Jürgen Zopp won three Challenger titles during his career, while Andres Võsand won two.

The ATP Challenger is the second tier of men's professional tennis, a step up from the ITF tournaments and one below the ATP tournaments.

Starting from this season, the ATP has made some changes to its Challenger categories. While previously Challenger 125 was the highest, Challenger 175 has now been introduced, along with Challenger 100, Challenger 75 and Challenger 50 competitions. The category numbers indicate how many ATP ranking points are awarded to the tournament winner.

Lajal's tournament win in the U.S. earned him 75 ATP points and is expected to move him up nearly 80 places to 230th spot in the next world rankings, which are due to be published on June 12.

Next week, the Estonian takes part in the Challenger Tyler in Texas, where he faces Antoine Escoffier of France in the opening round.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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