Sela claims Rhodes title ahead of Israel Open

World’s top players ply their trade on the clay courts that the 25-year-old Israeli so detests.

Dudi Sela backhand 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Dudi Sela backhand 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Dudi Sela claimed his first title in nearly two years on Sunday, defeating Rainer Schuettler of Germany 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the final of the Challenger tournament in Rhodes.
With the world’s top players currently plying their trade on the clay courts he so detests, the 25-year-old Israeli, ranked number 67 in the world, has chosen to prepare for Roland Garros on the Challenger circuit instead of the main ATP Tour, and so far it seems to be paying off. Sela reached the semifinals in Athens last week and will enter the $100,000 Israel Open tournament, which begins on Monday, with plenty of confidence after clinching the title in Rhodes.
“It feels great to take this event,” said Sela, who hadn’t lifted a title since August 2008, when he took a Challenger tournament in Vancouver.
“I’ve been feeling good about my tennis recently and I hope to continue this form in the Israel Open.”
Sela will be the number 1 seed in the tournament to be held at RamatHasharon, with Harel Levy seeded 6 and fellow Israelis Noam Okun, AmirWeintraub and Gilad Ben-Zvi all receiving wild cards.
Besides Sela, there will be two more top-100 players participating inRamat Hasharon, Yen-Hsun Lu (78) and Schuettler (85). Andy Ram and YoniErlich will team-up in the doubles tournament, playing together forjust the second time this year.
Shahar Pe’er (20) will play in the $2,000,000 event in Rome this weekand will face Italian wild-card Corinna Dentoni (182) in the firstround.
Meanwhile, after getting the better of Pe’er in the semifinals onSaturday, Justine Henin beat Samantha Stosur 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in the finalof the Porsche Grand Prix on Sunday.