Here we go, entry list of the next edition of Play In Challenger (from 26th February to 3rd March) was unveiled! We will especially find out three top 100, the two last winners of Masters Next Gen, three former winners of the tournament, young French and international rising stars…Below a presentation of the main players 3 weeks before beginning of first matches!
Let’s start with the two times winner of Play In Challenger (plus another final): Grégoire Barrère. After evolving during 2 years at the top level of ATP tour, and briefly broken the top 50 (ranked 49th at his best), his start of the season is more mitigated. He hopes to find again confidence and the rhythm of the victories on Tennis Club Lillois Lille Métropole’s courts. That will delight his numerous fans!
Other former winner who is back this year : Zizou Bergs. Belgium player, who experienced a year 2023 highlighted by injuries, ended however very strongly with 2 other titles in Challenger ! His very convincing performance in Davis Cup the last week-end is a positive sign three weeks now before Play In Challenger.
Otto Virtanen will defend his title! If he did not particularly shined on ATP Tour since his victory last year, he was very competitive in Davis Cup, leading his country to semi-final of the competition, for the first time of its history.
As to French players, Arthur Rinderknech and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are also announced. Having played the 2021 edition and top 100 member since that time, the first one comes back with the ambition to capture the crown. As to “P2H”, having to deal with several injuries over the last years, his recent title obtained in Challenger 125 of Quimper shows that the envy and the motivation are always there. The one who captured all the main crowns in double during his career (the 4 Grand Slams, Masters, Davis Cup) and reached the 2nd ranking in this discipline, will with no doubt be part of the favorites for the final victory.
Young French rising stars will also be expected. Harold Mayot (world number one in junior and winner of the Australian Open against Arthur Cazaux) is currently confirming at the upper level. Quarter finalist in Metz and Montpellier, two times semi-finalist in Challenger since the start of the year : the young Alsacian made another step and is closed from top 100. Titouan Droguet, who shined at the last US Open by upsetting Italian Lorenzo Musetti, will also be present.
Considering international players, young rising stars will also be very well represented, with just simply the 2 last winners of Masters Next Gen (competition with the 8 best players in the world below 22) ! Serbian Hamad Medjedovic, only 20, coached by Viktor Troicki (who played Play In in 2019) and protected by Novak Djokovic, shined last year, to be very closed from top 100. He notably upset Arthur Fils in final of Masters Next Gen. Other very promising player and already in the top 100 : American Brandon Nakashima. Winner of Masters Next Gen in 2022 after jumping to rank 43rd, his 2023 season was more mitigated before coming back very strongly at the beginning of this year. At only 22, future still looks bright for him…Let’s also mention young prodigy Croatian of 18, Dino Prizmic, winner of Roland Garros junior in 2023, and who delivered a memorable match against Novak Djokovic in the first round of Australian Open this year. At last, do not forget the gifted Belgium Alexander Blocks, only 18, winner of Australian Open 2023, and who already brilliantly evolved on the main Tour at the end of last year (2 ITF titles, one semi final in Challenger).
He captured Roland Garros junior in 2020 (against his compatriot Leandro Riedi, also listed in Play In Challenger this year), ousted Stefanos Tsitsipas in US Open 2023, to reach the 4th round, played Masters Next Gen 2 months ago, and belongs to top 100, at only 21 years: Swiss Dominic Stricker embodies (also) the next generation of world tennis! Injured since the end of last year, he chose Play In Challenger to make his come back to competition. A unique opportunity to come and admire this talented left-handed player, promised to a shine future, in worthy heir of who you know …
Experienced players will also have to be followed. South African Lloyd Harris ranked 31st in 2021, who reached US Open quarter final the same year, will try to be back to the top after a long period highlighted by injuries. Moldavian Radu Albot, ranked 39th in 2019, will be willing to show he is still competitive.
The list is very excited and the show should be there, waiting of course the name of players beneficiary from wild cards, where nice surprises could be announced…
Play In Challenger
From 26 February to 3 March 2024 in Tennis Club Lillois Lille Métropole
Rue du Mal Assis in Lille