Popko Earns Maiden Challenger Crown At Lisboa Belém Open

Dmitry Popko (photo: Beatriz Ruivo/Del Monte Lisboa Belém Open)

LISBON/STARNBERG, October 3, 2021

Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan clinched his maiden title on the ATP Challenger Tour by winning the 5th edition of the Monte Lisboa Belém Open. The No. 8 seed of the €44,820 clay-court tournament, held at the Club International de Football in Lisbon, Portugal, defeated Andrea Pellegrino of Italy in Sunday’s singles final 6-2, 6-4.

Popko, who had to save two match points in his quarterfinal match against Joao Domingues, won 83 per cent of his first-service points and capitalized on four of his five break-point chances to seal victory in one hour and 50 minutes.

Third time was the charm for Popko, who appeared in his third title title match, eventually lifting a Challenger trophy.

“I am very happy to win my first title,” Popko said during his post-match press conference. “After the quarterfinal I was thinking that I had nothing to lose and that I could maybe win the tournament. And that’s what happened.”

Popko captured 18 singles trophies on the ITF Pro Circuit. “It took me very long (to win my first Challenger),” he said. “Many years ago I felt good at Futures and I thought I could bring my form to Challenger level. I had many chances to win a tournament but I was not ready to do it. This week it happened.”

The 24-year-old has become the first Kazakh to earn a Challenger title since Alexander Bublik in 2019. World No. 187 Popko pocketed €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points. He is projected to rise to a new career high at World No. 164. Popko will next play the Emilio Sanchez Academy Challenger in El Prat de Llobregat, Spain.