Dudi Sela Defeats Thomas Fabbiano To Capture 22nd Career Title At The Aegon Open - UBITENNIS
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ATP Challenger

Dudi Sela Defeats Thomas Fabbiano To Capture 22nd Career Title At The Aegon Open

Joshua Coase

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Dudi Sela

Dudi Sela captured the 22nd title of his career rallying from a set down to defeat Thomas Fabbiano in three sets 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to win the ATP Challenger title at the Aegon Open.

 

After a close first set with few chances to break Fabbiano capitalised in the ninth game and served it out to move a step closer to a sixth career title. The fourth seed also had break points in the sixth game but Sela came back using all his experience to force a deciding set and swiftly established a 4-1 lead in the third. Fabbiano pulled two games back but the Israeli held his nerve and broke to love in the last game to seal the crown in Nottingham.

These two players had met once before in a semifinal on the ATP Challenger circuit in Suzhou back in 2015 and it was Sela who came out on top in three sets 6-1, 1-6, 6-4. Fabbiano got past Sam Groth in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 in his first match out on Centre Court in the last four, while Sela advanced following Marius Copil’s retirement when leading 7-6(4), 1-0.

The match was of a high standard from the start with both players hitting more winners than unforced errors as they battled it out in the heat at the Nottingham Tennis Centre with punishingly long rallies.

Both players were solid on serve and looked unlikely at being broken until the ninth game where Sela came under pressure. Fabbiano came out and hit two forehand winners to move to 0-30 and a double fault from the third seed left the Israeli facing two set points. The Italian fourth seed could not take the first but sealed the second after he forced an error from Sela to win the opener 6-4 after 34 minutes.

Sela faced further pressure down break point in his opening service game of the second set but out dropped volley his opponent at the net to survive the scare and level at one game all. Having faced the pressure himself the Israeli was able to get his first break of the match and begin his comeback , only for Fabbiano to break straight back in the fourth game after he squandered two chances to hold.

In the sixth game it looked as though Fabbiano may have been closing in on victory after gaining two break point chances but Sela responded to hold and then hit two superbly struck one-handed backhands to break his opponent once more. The break proved to pivotal as the third seed served it out to force a deciding set for the title.

With the momentum now with the Israeli he broke his opponent in the opening game of the final set after Fabbiano put a forehand wide and he quickly found himself in complete control up a double break at 4-1. Sela secured the double break with a stunning diving volley winner which wowed the crowd at the Nottingham crowd.

The Italian was not finished yet and pulled one of the breaks back with a cross court winner on the line to pull it back to 4-3, but Sela pulled away again to move one game away. Fabbiano appeared to be jaded in the final game as he dropped serve to love to seal the title for Sela, his second in Nottingham.

ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha

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Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev. 

 

Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes. 

The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3. 

Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week. 

“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. 

Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1.  “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili. 

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ATP Challenger

Andy Murray defeated in the final of the Biella Challenger

The former world number was runner-up to the Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko. Both will feature in next week’s event in the same location

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Andy Murray - ATP Challenger Biella 2021 (Credit: Felice Calabrò)

Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.

 

But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.

In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).

Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa

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ATP Challenger

ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021

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The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.

 

Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021. 

The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper. 

France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February). 

Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players. 

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