Stebe Wins Challenger Finals

Source: Douglas Daniel/www.challengerfinals.com.br

Cedrik-Marcel Stebe capped a remarkable turnaround this season by winning the first ever ATP Challenger Tour Finals after beating Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4 in Sao Paulo.

The 21-year-old German came into the year as world number 375 and had been ranked as low as #405 in February but claimed two Challenger Tour titles in Bangkok and Shanghai during September to qualify for the finals.

In Brazil, the left-hander lost to Sela in his opening round robin match but defeated fellow countryman Matthias Bachinger and Portuguese second seed Rui Machado to face another compatriot Andreas Beck in the last four.

The semi-final couldn’t have been more tight. After losing the first set 7-5, Stebe found himself a break down at 6-5 but levelled and won the tiebreak to take the match into a third set.

Despite having 16 break point opportunities in the match, Stebe could only convert three but 12 aces helped force a deciding tiebreak which he won 7-4 to earn a place in the final after two hours and 49 minutes.

The final didn’t last nearly as long. Sela won just one of his six break points while his opponent took four of eight to comfortably take his third career title.

Earlier in the year, following wins over Nikolay Davydenko and Fabio Fognini in the ATP 250 event in Stuttgart, he received a wildcard to another home tournament and beat the Russian again along with Juan Carlos Ferrero.

He eventually fell at the third round stage of the International German Open but his impressive results meant he reached the top 100 for the first time at the end of October.

Entering the Challenger Tour Finals, Stebe had been ranked just outside the top 100 but the young German is now set to rise and end the year in his highest ever ranking position.

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