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Gregory Gaultier (left) and Viktor Byrtus (right) after the final in Prague

Challenger Tour Review: Gaultier & Varela Taste Success

In the final two events before Christmas on the PSA Challenger Tour, there were wins for Frenchman Gregory Gaultier and Spain’s Hugo Varela, with the former celebrating his birthday in the best way possible.

Gaultier turned 38 on Wednesday, and faced off against Victor Byrtus of the Czech Republic in the final of the Expression Networks Prague Open, which was held at the same venue in which the ‘French General’ had won three months earlier.

The former World No.1 claimed the prize at the Expression Networks Nolan and Liam’s Tournament, the first event back after the Tour’s six-month suspension due to COVID-19, at Squasclub Strahov in Prague, and he claimed a second win of 2020 this week.

Gaultier was the top seed in Prague this week and his experience and class shone through, and he spent an average of just 23 minutes on court per match across his four contests, including a 15-minute victory in the opening round of the tournament.

In the final on Wednesday, he was in complete control throughout, dismissing No.8 seed Viktor Byrtus, who had already knocked out the No.3 seed in the semi-finals, in 26 minutes, winning in straight games to claim the 42nd title of his illustrious career.

Over in Spain at the Challenger 5 level Open Federacion Espanola, it was World No.129 Hugo Varela that took the title, after he defeated countryman Ivan Perez in a tough-four game battle that last over an hour and a half.

The tournament, which took place in Malaga, allowed only domestic participation, with 14 Spanish representatives, along with a Dutchman and a Colombian, both of whom reside in the nation.

After a first round bye, Varela took on No.7 seed Nilo Vidal in the quarter-finals, and had to come from a game down to win 3-1. He then got the better of the unseeded Augusto Ortigosa in exactly the same fashion before coming up against Perez in the final.

He took a two game lead in the contest, but the No.4 seed started to fight back, winning the third to close the deficit. However, Varela was able to close out the match in the fourth, claiming the first title of his professional career.

Result – Final: Expression Networks Prague Open
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [8] Viktor Byrtus (CZE) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)

Result – Final: Open Federation Espanola
[1] Hugo Varela (ESP) bt [4] Ivan Perez (ESP) 3-1: 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8 (91m)

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