Tennis: Dudi Sela, Harel Levy win first titles

Israelis win the $25,000 Challenger events in Russia and England.

Dudi Sela 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Dudi Sela 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Dudi Sela and Harel Levy claimed their first titles in almost two years on Sunday afternoon, winning the $25,000 Challenger events in Togliatti, Russia and Manchester, England respectively. The 22-year-old Sela, who will climb into the world's top 150 for the first time in his career when the new rankings are announced on Monday, defeated Russian Mikhail Ledovskikh 7-6 (4), 6- 3 in what was his second straight final on tour. The Israeli, who was ranked 151st at the start of the tournament in Russia, lost last Sunday in the final of the $125,000 Cordoba event, squandering three match points. The 29-year-old Levy (264), who was ranked as high as 30th in the world in June 2001, defeated American qualifier Travis Rettenmaier 6-2, 6-4 and edged slightly closer to the world's top 200. Levy dominated his opponent throughout the final on Sunday and cruised to the title on the Manchester grass. Sela trailed 5-3 in the first set of his final against Ledovskikh (218), but clawed his way back to 5-5 and won the eventual tiebreak. Three straight games in the second set gave the Israeli a commanding lead and Sela, who will jump approximately 30 places in the ATP rankings on Monday, wrapped-up his fourth career title in no time. Shahar Pe'er will return to the WTA tour this week and play in the $600,000 Stanford tournament, her first event in more than three weeks. The Israeli hasn't played since losing in the third round of Wimbledon to eventual finalist Marion Bartoli. Nadal wins sixth tournament of 2007 in Germany Rafael Nadal dropped serve three times Sunday and had to sweep five straight games to beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 to win the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. The top-seeded Spaniard hadn't previously dropped serve in the tournament, but he had to rally from 5-2 down in the second set to claim his sixth title this year and his 93rd win in 94 matches on clay. He is now 23-5 in career finals, the highest winning percentage in the Open era. "I had a little luck, but I'm very happy I played well here," Nadal said. "After losing the Wimbledon final to Federer, it was hard to have a good tournament." The 50th-ranked Wawrinka had only won one match in eight attempts heading into the tournament after returning in May from a knee injury. "I had almost no self-confidence before coming into this tournament," Wawrinka said. "I'm just enjoying it at the moment. I played a really good match against the best clay-court player in the world." Wawrinka said he received a text message from Federer, who beat Nadal at Hamburg on May 20 for the Spaniard's only loss on clay in his long streak."He sent me an SMS about the final, but he didn't give me any advice about how to beat Nadal," Wawrinka said. AP contributed to this report.