The Tashkent ATP challenger played last year saw players battle their opponents on the courts and the weather off the court. The first half of the Tashkent challenger witnessed splendid weather and tennis, with the attention of foreign players , coaches, and local spectators focused on the games of young and talented Uzbek players , but the second half of the week saw local hero Denis Istomin holding on to the centre stage.
The emergence and performances of young Uzbek Players at the Challenger is a clear example of the proper planning and structuring which has become possible due to the attention and support of the government towards development of tennis which has been ensured by creation of sound infrastructure and technical base in all regions of the country.
The credit for this solid foundation of tennis in the region goes to the mentors of the Republican Tennis School of the Olympic Reserve and the Olympic Sports Department which has worked with a high degree of efficiency in 14 regional colleges, and a network of children and youth sports schools.
This has resulted in throwing up a galaxy of talented young men and girls who have grown up, successfully continuing the glorious traditions of older comrades through quality and professional performances on the court .
22 year old Sanjar Fayziev performed best among the young talent . Fayziev who has had great hopes placed on him for a long time , finally played to his potential at the 2016 edition of the Tashkent Challenger giving a sensational first round result by knocking out fourth seeded Russian Evgeny Donskoy after coming back after a loss of the first set and winning 4-6,6-3,7-6(5)
In the quarterfinals Fayziev whose ranking was below 600 was drawn to take on Kazakh Aleksandr Nedovyesov ranked 209 about 400 places above him. The start of the match seemed to confirm the difference in the ranking when the Kazakh took the first set easily at 6-0. One of the first graduates of the Republican Tennis School of the Olympic Reserve showed fighting qualities making a comeback to win the second set on a tiebreak 7- 6 (5) and the third set 6- 3, to win his second consecutive three set match .
Playing two tough matches needed high quality fitness training “Sanjar credits his transformation to Oleg Ivanov with whom he was actively working for the last two years”.
In the semi-finals, Fayziev was pitted to take on another favorite - Russian Konstantin Kravchuk (99 ATP ranked ) the fifth seed of the tournament. Sanjar demonstrated excellent physical qualities again, however Kravchuk got out the best in him to quell the challenge of Fayziev winning 6-4, 7- 5 in a stubborn duel to move into the finals
Fayziev entered the doubles semi-finals too partnering his teammate Jurabek Karimov.The Uzbek duo stunned the fans knocking out the top seeded pair of Nicholas Monroy (USA) and Artem Sitak (New Zealand) winning 6-2, 6- 4.
Besides Fayziyev and Karimov, young Temur Ismailov, Sanatilla Kutibayev, Khumoyun Sultanov also proved to be worthy participants ensuring results and points at the ATP Tashkent Challenger
From the talented Uzbek youngsters the focus moved to country’s top player Denis Istomin who like running away with his third title at home playing fluent tennis until bad weather and rains hit the tournament
Due to the bad weather, several quarter-finals were postponed , on Friday on a cold a chilly day Istomin stopped the winning run of Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig winning 6-4, 7- 6 (13-11) in the morning session .
After short break he came back to down 2015 finalist Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6- 4, 6- 4 in the semifinals and make it to his third final and also finish the doubles semifinals . Though matches ended in two sets, each of them lasted almost three hours a rare occurrence at tennis tournaments.
In the finals the hectic previous day seemed to take its toll on Denis as looked tired on the court and went down 5-7,4-6 to Russian Kravchuk in the finals .
The rains and inclement weather continued playing havoc with the scheduling as the organizers were faced to move the doubles event to the indoor courts Istomin joined hands with Russian Mikhail Elgin for the doubles and the pair emerged doubles champions scoring a win over 12 time Grand Slam doubles title winner Leander Paes of India and Andre Begemann of Germany.
Istomin’s heroic journey into two finals and three wins in one day and combating world class players and the inclement weather further reiterates the fact that Denis is truly a winner on and off the court .