Galarneau yelling

photo : Martin Sidorjak

Canadian Alexis Galarneau defeated American qualifier Evan Zhu 6-3, 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger.

It took three hours and twenty minutes to battle his way into the semis, but today required less than half that amount of time. Although it was his quickest match of the tournament, it was not smooth sailing. Galarneau faced seven break points in the first set alone.

He was able to fend off all seven and captured the lone break point opportunity he had on Zhu’s serve to take the first set. Galarneau served only 54 percent first serves in the opening set and raised that number to 67 percent in the second set.

He faced only one break point and remained unbroken in the match. Zhu also continued to serve well but was unable to come up with the goods on the important points. Galarneau broke late in the set to take the match in straight sets.

The break point conversation was the key to the match. While Galarneau saved all eight, Zhu saved only two of four. The 23-year-old Canadian will face second seed Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in the final. If he prevails it would be the biggest pro title of his career.

Galarneau won one ITF title in 2020 but has never won on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Kelsey Stevenson wins doubles title

Fellow Canadian Kelsey Stevenson won the doubles trophy with British partner Billy Harris. Stevenson and Harris defeated top seeds Max Schnur (USA) and John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 2-6, 7-6(9) 10-8.

Schnur and Smith easily won their semi-final match in 46 minutes earlier in the day. That confidence carried over into the early stages of the final. They lost just two points on serve in the first set and won all 15 points on their first serve.

They continued to serve well in the second set and did not face a break point in the match. Stevenson and Harris were able to hang tough and hold their service games and get to a tiebreak. The underdog team’s grit was on full display as they saved match points to force a super tiebreak.

The super tiebreak was just as close as the second set tiebreak. Just one mini-break at the end won the match for Stevenson and Harris.

At 32 years old it is the first ATP Challenger title for Stevenson in singles or doubles.