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MANILA,Philippines – A first career ATP Challenger tour title will have to wait a little longer for Francis Casey Alcantara.
The current world No. 199 in men’s doubles fell short in his bid for the biggest win of his pro career after he and Sun Fajing of China bowed to Manuel Guinard and Gregoire Jacq of France, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), in the finals of the ATP Challenger Bangkok Open 2 on Saturday, January 13, in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
A bronze medalist in mixed doubles in the Asian Games and a gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games in 2023, Alcantara was hoping for a breakthrough after finishing runner-up in five previous ATP Challenger tour championship appearances. Two of these runner-up finishes were with Sun in 2023. Sun, meanwhile, has two ATP Challenger titles to his name, although the last came in 2019.
Alcantara and Sun played beautiful tennis for the whole week in Nonthaburi, winning all their matches in straight sets.
They prevailed over Scott Duncan of Great Britain and Kelsey Stevenson of Canada in the opening round, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), then followed it up by blasting Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Jisung Nam of South Korea in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-2. In the semifinals, the Filipino and Chinese combo triumphed over Salvatorre Caruso and Giovanni Fonio of Italy, 6-4, 6-3.
The Asian tandem, however, found themselves a tougher matchup in the finals against the French duo, who eliminated top seeds Luke Johnson of Great Britain and Skander Mansouri in the semifinals.
In a tightly contested opening set that remained even until the eighth game, Guinard and Jacq, who have both seen action in the men’s doubles main draw of the French Open, converted their only break point to seize the advantage at 5-4 then finished it off by holding serve in the 10th game.
The second set appeared to be going the way of Alcantara and Sun when they opened with a 2-0 lead only to witness Guinard and Jacq quickly get back into the match and win the next four games.
Alcantara and Sun managed to tie the count at 4-4 and even saved a match point, but Guinard and Jacq converted the points that mattered to emerge champions of the tournament.
The Filipino and Chinese tandem will resume their partnership in the Bangkok Open 3, which began on Sunday, January 14. – Rappler.com