STA, 19 August 2019 - The best Slovenian tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open, the biggest international tennis tournament in the country, on Sunday, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3, in the finals, which lasted an hour and 38 minutes. This is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old.
The win counts as Bedene's 25th consecutive victory at tournaments at this level. He clinched victory at the last five Challenger tournaments he participated in, not being outmatched at them since March 2017.
Bedene is the third Slovenian player to have won the Slovenia Open, following Grega Žemlja (winning in 2013) and Blaž Kavčič (2014). Last year the title went to French Constant Lestienne.
The Ljubljana-born player received EUR 6,190 along with the tournament's prize and 80 ATP points, which have raised him ten places to 80th in ATP world rankings.
"It's nice to raise the cup, particularly knowing that I haven't played my best. Many times I kept saving points, but I showed character and fought throughout the match. Luckily, such tournaments allow for more mistakes. At an ATP tournament I would have lost quickly had I played this way," said Bedene after the match.
His opponent in the finals was placed almost 350 places below him in ATP world rankings before Sunday's match, but according to Bedene, Durasovic played better than his ranking would have indicated and will probably make headlines in the future.
Durasovic got in the lead in the second set by 3:0, but then Bedene raised his game to win the next six games and rejoiced in victory in front of the home crowd.
"I knew I needed to step up my game because I didn't want to play a third set once more. I sped up and snatched the well-deserved win," said the most recent winner of the Slovenia Open.
The highlight of the tournament though was not the finals but the semi-final face-off between the two best Slovenian players, Bedene and third-seeded Blaž Rola.
The crowd saw the 30-year-old winning over his two years younger rival, who still rose by some 15 places to 127th after the tournament.
The Slovenia Open's champion used the tournament to prepare for the US Open, which started today, and its hard court surface.
"I've done my task. I played the maximum number of matches and I think that my coaching team and I have come closer to a level of playing I need to continue the season.
"As a result I'm quite tired, I've been playing five days back-to-back and some rest will be welcome," said the 30-year-old.