Sela conquers Vancouver for a third time

Win pushes 25-year-old Israeli tennis star into ATP top 100.

Sela 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Sela 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hours after claiming the Vancouver Challenger tournament for the third time in his career, Dudi Sela returned to the top 100 on Monday morning.
The 25-year-old Israeli climbed 16 places in the ATP rankings to No. 91 in the world thanks to his 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ricardas Berankis. Sela’s win over the Lithuanian came a mere two hours after he defeated No. 1 seed Taylor Dent 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals, which were postponed by a day due to the rainy conditions in Vancouver.
“It’s a great feeling to win here three times,” said Sela, who also lifted the title trophy in Vancouver in his two previous appearances at the event in 2005 and 2008.
“I feel good about my tennis and I hope to take some confidence from this triumph and continue to play well.”
After winning just two of six matches and dropping out of the top 100, Sela decided to take a break from the ATP Tour to regain some confidence and amass much-needed ranking points on the Challenger circuit.
A week – and five wins – later it is clear his decision has more than paid off and he will now be brimming with optimism ahead of the final months of the season.
Shahar Pe’er, who remained at No. 17 in the world, advanced to the second round of the $2 million event in Cincinnati on Monday night after opponent Olga Govortsova (45) retired with the Israeli up 6-3, 4-1.
Meanwhile, David Nalbandian became the first player ranked outside the top 100 to win an ATP title in 2010, using his typically strong service returns and effective baseline game to beat No. 25 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Sunday in the Legg Mason Classic final.
It’s the Argentine’s 11th career title, but his first on US soil, and first anywhere in 11⁄2 years. He hadn’t entered a tournament since April, sidelined by a bad left hamstring.
Before that, Nalbandian missed nearly 10 months starting in May 2009 because of hip surgery.
“If he plays like that,” Baghdatis said, “he can beat a lot of guys in the top 10.”
Nalbandian has reached at least the semifinals five times at major championships, and was ranked as high as No. 3. But all of the recent time off, including skipping the past six Grand Slam tournaments, contributed to a slide down the rankings that dropped him to 161st.
On Monday, he climbed 72 places to No. 45.
Also Sunday, unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova wasted four match points in the second set before winning her first title in 10 months with a 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3 win over fourthseeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the Mercury Insurance Open final.
It was Kuznetsova's 13th career title, but her first since she defeated Radwanska in straight sets at Beijing in October.