Stebe In Cruise Mode At Todi Challenger

TODI, August 19, 2020

Cedrik-Marcel Stebe booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the €88,520 Internazionali Di Tennis Citta Di Todi following a straight-set victory against Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit on Wednesday. The No. 4 seed from Germany, who needed just 65 minutes to defeat Italy’s Andrea Vavassori in his opening match at the beginning of the week, showed another solid performance at the Tennis Club Todi 1971.

In hot conditions with temperatures of more than 35 degrees Celsius on Campo Centrale, Stebe didn’t want to spend too much time under the Italian sun. The 29-year-old converted six of his eight break point chances to prevail 6-4, 6-0 in 77 minutes.

“I played solid today,” Stebe told Tennis TourTalk afterwards. “It wasn’t that easy, as the court is a bit uneven and you have to handle a couple of bad bounces, but I managed to overcome the challenges.” 

The current World No. 133 has traveled to Todi for the first time and feels comfortable in Umbria. “It’s really nice here,” said Stebe overlooking the panorama of the town. “I always enjoy playing Challengers in Italy. I like the relaxed mentality of the people and the food.” 

He also feels safe in the “new normality” on the ATP Challenger Tour. “The organizers here are doing a good job. Of course, you have to wear your mask at the venue and need to keep distance between yourself and others, but you still have your personal liberty,” Stebe assessed.

The goal for the former World No. 71 is to return to the top 100 by the end of the season. “However, it won’t be easy. If you have a look at the entry lists, competition is really strong. The cut at the ATP 250 event in Kitzbühel is at No. 31, which means that other players ranked between World No. 50 and 100 are forced to play Challengers. This continues all the way down to the ITF Circuit and endangers the livelihood of lower ranked players. It’s a difficult situation and I hope that the ATP manages that not too many tournaments have to be cancelled.”

If Stebe continues his journey on the Italian clay-court swing by competing in the upcoming events over the next couple of weeks is still written in the stars. The left-hander still hopes to make the main draw of the US Open. “I am currently the fourth alternate player on the list. Withdrawal deadline for the next Challenger in Trieste is on Friday.”

Up next for Stebe in Todi will be Gian Marco Moroni, who prevented an all-German quarterfinal after knocking out Daniel Altmaier by the score of 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 31 minutes. “It’s always tough to play against the local favourites in Italy,” Stebe expects a tough fight on Friday.

Hoang outlasts Vilella Martinez

Later in the day, Antoine Hoang fought past Mario Vilella Martinez of Spain, rallying 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The No. 6 seed from France outpointed his opponent 88-81.

“It was a good fight. He is a very good player and serves very well with a good kick. In the heat, the balls bounce very high and it is tough to return,” Hoang told Tennis TourTalk after two hours and 18 minutes on Grand Stand. “It took me some time to read his serve but I capitalized on my first break point in the second set and things started to change since then.”

The 24-year-old Frenchman, who captured his maiden Challenger title on indoor-carpet in Eckental, Germany two years ago, played some national exhibition tournaments during the tour’s suspension. “Conditions now are a bit different, as there are not too many people to support us but we are all happy to compete again.”

Hoang will next face No. 3 seed Federico Gaio, who emerged victorious from the all-Italian encounter with Alessandro Giannessi, winning 6-4, 6-2. “It is always nice to play an Italian player in Italy,” Hoang is looking forward to the quarterfinal match-up.