The ATP Challenger Tour, formerly known as the ATP Challenger Series, is a series of international tournaments in men's tennis. The tournaments of the ATP Challenger Tour are the second highest level of competition in men's professional tennis, just behind the ATP World Tour events.
The first challenger events were held already in 1978 and the tournaments currently offer total prize money ranging from 35.000 USD up to 150.000 USD. Prize money along with whether the tournament provides hospitality (food and lodging) to the players, determines the number of ranking points a player gets for winning each match in the tournament. The ranking points to the overall winner of an ATP Challenger Tour event range from 75 points to 125 points, depending on the tournament's prize money and hospitality. To put these number into the right context - the tournaments of the ATP World Tour award from 250 to 2000 ranking points to the champions.
On the ATP Challenger Tour mostly compete players that cannot directly enter the tournaments of the ATP World Tour because of their low ranking. These are usually players ranked between world No. 80 and world No. 250 or so. The ATP Challenger Tour is always full of some very good tennis players and we can see mix of young up-and-coming players and experienced veterans there.
Every year a few young players burst onto the scene like Jiri Vesely or Pablo Carreno Busta did in 2013. They had to earn their ranking points the hard way - by winning lots of tennis matches on the ATP Challenger Tour. Nearly every player on the ATP World Tour has fought his way to the top of the game through these tournaments and even the biggest stars of the game like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic competed on the ATP Challenger Tour in the early part of their careers.
But these tournaments are also full of players that have been ranked inside or just on the edge of the Top 100 in the world, experienced veterans who have spent time under the bright lights of the ATP World Tour. Some of these players have slipped because of an injury and others because of age, but they can still play some really good tennis and use their experience to compete at a very high level.
The ATP Challenger Tour also brings men's professional tennis to countries where ATP World Tour events are not held. This way tennis fans in countries like Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovenia or Korea can also enjoy tennis matches of the highest quality and see the future stars of the game.
ATP Challenger Tour Finals
Similarly to the ATP World Tour Finals, the ATP Challenger Tour Finals is the season-ending championships of the ATP Challenger Tour. The tournament is played at the end of each tennis season, involving the top seven players in that year's ATP Challenger Tour ranking and an invited player from the tournament's host country. It is not a knock-out tournament as the eight players are divided into two groups of four players and play three round-robin matches against the other three players in their group. The two players with the best records in each group progress to the semifinals, with the winners meeting in the final.
The tournament was firstly played in Sao Paolo in 2011 and past winners are Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (2011), Guido Pella (2012) and Filippo Volandri (2013).