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Three-Set Thriller Caps Day One At Challenger Tour Finals

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Nedovyesov© Agência InovafotoOleksandr Nedovyesov survived a late charge from Guilherme Clezar to win his opening round robin match in Sao Paulo.

No. 3 seed Oleksandr Nedovyesov needed three sets to defeat home favourite Guilherme Clezar as the ATP Challenger Tour Finals got underway on Wednesday, in Sao Paulo. A winner of 13 of his last 15 matches on the Challenger circuit, the Ukrainian prevailed 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 in exactly two hours. 

Nedovyesov benefitted from eight double faults by Clezar but struggled to close out the match in the second set, after going up an early break. The Oklahoma State University product was broken while serving for the victory at 5-4 when the Brazilian, and youngest player in the draw, reeled off three straight games to capture the set and force a decider. He converted on his first set point after a 26-shot rally.

Both players would exchange breaks of serve early in the third set, with Nedovyesov eventually pulling out the victory when Clezar hit four unforced errors while serving to stay in the match down 3-5.

“I’m happy to get this win tonight,” said Nedovyesov. “I knew it was going to be a tricky match. For me, that I wasn’t able to hold my serve while serving for the match was a big surprise. Then somehow I held my nerves in the third set. I was trying to keep a lot of balls in play and just trying to survive.”

Challenger Tour Finals Player Spotlight: Oleksandr Nedovyesov

GabashviliNedovyesov joins Teymuraz Gabashvili (pictured left), a 6-2, 6-3 winner over defending runner-up Adrian Ungur, atop Group Verde after the first day of action. The Russian did not face a break point all match, while converting on four of 13 on the Romanian’s serve, and failed to relinquish a point on his first serve.

“The first match is always difficult and I didn’t feel good,” said Gabashvili. "It’s very windy here, so I tried to put more effect on my serve and I was very concentrated. The key today was my baseline game. I think I won most of the long rallies.”

Ungur was playing his first match in Sao Paulo since falling to Guido Pella in a final set tie-break in last year’s title match.

Nedovyesov and Gabashvili will duel for Group Verde supremacy on Thursday. 

In Group Amarelo action, meanwhile, Alejandro Gonzalez upset second-seed Filippo Volandri 6-3, 6-3 in 80 minutes, saving all nine break points faced and winning 80 per cent of first serve points. Volandri, a former World No. 25 and the oldest player in the field, struggled with his serve and was broken three times while misfiring for six double faults.

Challenger Tour Finals Player Spotlight: Alejandro Gonzalez

A three-time champion on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2013, Gonzalez was proud to come through in straight sets against a difficult opponent. “I'm very glad. This is a remarkable win in my career. Volandri is such a great player. I watched him play since I was a teenager. He was a Top 25 player, definitely the highest ranked player I’ve ever beaten.”

Gonzalez will face Dutchman Jesse Huta Galung (pictured below) on Thursday. Huta Galung needed just 67 minutes to oustHuta Galung Andrej Martin 6-3, 6-4 behind three breaks of serve. The four-time Challenger champion in 2013 is seeded fourth this week in Sao Paulo.

“I wanted to start well in both sets and as I got ahead I started playing better and better,” said Huta Galung. “It’s important to win in two sets because set average can be decisive at the end of the group.”

An undefeated champion will have to win five matches in five days at the Sociedade Harmonia de Tenis, in the ultimate test of endurance.

ATP Challenger Tour Finals Thursday Match-ups
Play begins at 1:00pm local time
(2) Filippo Volandri (ITA) vs. (7) Andrej Martin (SVK)—Volandri leads 2-0
(4) Jesse Huta Galung (NED) vs. (5) Alejandro Gonzalez (COL)—First meeting
(6) Adrian Ungur (ROU) vs. (8) Guilherme Clezar (BRA)—Clezar leads 1-0
(1) Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) vs. (3) Oleksandr Nedovyesov (UKR)—Gabashvili leads 1-0

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