Bonzi Triumphs At El Espinar Challenger

Benjamin Bonzi (photo: Florian Heer)

EL ESPINAR/SEGOVIA, August 1, 2021

Benjamin Bonzi captured his third ATP Challenger career title by winning the 30th edition of the Open Castilla y Leon Villa de El Espinar. The No. 2 seed from France fought past first-time finalist Tim van Rijthoven of the Netherlands 7-6(10), 3-6, 6-4 in Sunday’s championship match of the €66,640 hard-court tournament.

In sunny conditions in the province of Segovia, Bonzi showed some fighting spirit when he came back from 1-6 down in the tie-break of the opening set. However, it was van Rijthoven, who gained the first break of the match in the fourth game of the second set after hitting some great returns and two fantastic one-handed backhand passing shots.

In the end, 25-year-old Bonzi was the more experienced player, who was wide awake in the decisive moment of the third set. The World No. 111 converted his first match point to secure victory after two hours and 19 minutes.

“The key was to stay focused every point, as he played so well and served great. I needed to save five set points in the first set and I am so happy with this win today,” Bonzi told Tennis TourTalk.

Following his triumphs in Potchefstroom, South Africa and Ostrava, Czech Republic earlier this season, Bonzi will crack the Top 100 for the first time. “This is a great achievement,” he said. “This is one of the main goals of the year but I don’t want to stop there. I will try to go further and we will see in the future.”

Bonzi collected at Spain’s longest-running ATP Challenger event €9,200 in prize money as well as 90 ATP Ranking points. Next up for the Nimes native will be the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. “I hope to get in there and then the US Open of course,” Bonzi said.

Van Rijthoven on the rise

Van Rijthoven, who took the doubles title alongside his compatriot Igor Sijsling at last week’s Open Ciudad de Pozoblanco, could also take some positives from his two weeks in Spain. He earned €5,400 in prize money as well as 55 ATP Rankings points.

“I took some points and played a lot of matches, which is very important for the confidence,” said the 24-year-old Dutchman, who had to cope with a couple of injuries and even had to undergo three surgeries over the last years.

“Physically I am fine now. My goal is to make the qualifyings of the Grand Slams. After this week, I will be ranked No. 260. So, it’s doable. Let’s go for the Australian Open next year.”

Van Rijthoven, coached by former doubles World No. 1 Paul Haarhuis, will next compete in the Czech Republic, playing in Liberec and Prague.