Bicknell Claims Maiden Challenger Crown At Southern California Open

Blaise Bicknell (photo: Lexie Wanninger/USTA SoCal)


Jamaica’s unseeded Blaise Bicknell turned in the biggest performance of his young career this week at the Southern California Open as he toppled top-seeded Zachary Svajda, 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday to win his first ATP Challenger Tour 50 title at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The 22-year-old Bicknell, who didn’t drop a set all week, said it was his serve that made all the difference as he threw in a total of nice aces that gave the typically strong returner Svajda fits all day.

“It feels incredible,” said Bicknell, who grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to a tennis academy in Miami at age 15. “Me and my team put in the hard work. This is definitely the biggest win rankings-wise of my career. I served great today.”

Bicknell was a college teammate with current world ATP Top 16 player Ben Shelton and helped the Florida Gators win the 2021 NCAA team title. “I am playing the best that I have in my career,” he said. “I didn’t let up at any time.”

Bicknell broke Svajda’s normally reliable serve to go up 4-2 in the first set, but Svadja broke right back before losing his serve again in a deuce game giving Bicknell the chance to serve out the first set. And that’s exactly what he did booming a serve out wide on the deuce side on game point for his fifth ace of the first set and a 6-3 advantage.

The second set was much of the same story with Bicknell having an answer for everything Svajda threw at him. Svajda got in just 48 percent of his first serves in (26 of 54) compared to 80 percent for Bicknell (45 of 56).

Ranked No. 396 in the world, Bicknell will rise in the ATP rankings with the 50 singles points. He will cash a check for $5,660 in prize money. Ranked No. 148 before the week started, Svajda made $3,350 and earned 25 rankings points.

Before Sunday, Bicknell’s biggest career win was an ITF World Tennis Tour M25 title in Canada last July. Bicknell played two seasons at Florida before transferring to Tennessee. A member of the Jamaican Davis Cup team. Bicknell has a record of 13-5 in Davis Cup matches.

Heading into the match, Svajda had a perfect 7-0 mark in singles finals winning the last four at the ATP Challenger level.

Bicknell will be one to keep an eye on as the 2024 pro season gets underway. “This is my first on the ATP Challenger Tour and hopefully many more to come,” he said.