ATP CHALLENGER TOUR FINALS
Pella Wins ATP Challenger Tour Finals Crown
Sao Paulo, Brazil
by ATP Staff|
Seventh seed Guido Pella edged No. 6 seed Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(4) on Saturday evening to capture the ATP Challenger Tour Finals trophy in Sao Paulo. With his victory, Pella will crack the Top 100 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time.
"The match was really special because if I lost I would be out of the Top 100 and I would have to wait until 2013 to see if I could get in,” said Pella. “My goal this year was getting closer to this group. I was able to get through that and everything will be different next year. I expect to stay in the Top 100 for a long time
“Beating [Thomaz] Bellucci [in the round robin] gave me a lot of confidence. It was one of the hardest matches I've ever played. Everyone was rooting against me. At the start, I was a little bit nervous, but I managed to win the match. The defeat against Ungur put me down, because it was 7-6 in the third. Anyway, I got the spot in the semi-finals and won the title in the toughest match of my career.”
In a replay of a Green Group round-robin match, which Ungur rallied to win 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) on Wednesday, the title match went down to the wire in similar fashion. Pella saved all five break points he faced en route to winning the first set and held two break points at 5-5 in the second set, before Ungur staved them off to hold. Pella erased two set points at 5-6, but Ungur opened an early lead in the ensuing tie-break and went on to level the match at one set apiece.
Pella immediately regrouped to break the Romanian for a 2-0 lead in the final set, but Ungur would later break back on his eighth opportunity. The two held their nerve the remainder of the way to push the championship to a final set tie-break. There were no mini-breaks until the 10th point, when Pella capitalised to reach match point. He closed out the victory on the next point to claim the hard-fought contest in two hours and 31 minutes.
“I was attacking pretty well in the first set, but he started serving well and it put me in a lot of trouble,” Pella said. “He has one of the best backhands on the tour. I was very nervous. In a certain moment, I told myself that I just couldn't do it. But I fought hard, served better and won the tie-break. I'm really happy.”
The 124th-ranked Pella improved to a 4-0 record in ATP Challenger Tour finals in 2012, adding to his successes in Salinas, Manta and Campinas. Ungur dropped to 1-6 in his seven title match appearances this year.
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