POZOBLANCO, July 24, 2021
Cem Ilkel and Altug Celikbilek will meet in an all-Turkish final on Sunday at the Open Ciudad de Pozoblanco.
In front of a few hundred spectators at the C.D. Open de Tenis Ciudad de Pozoblanco on Saturday evening, No. 3 seed Celikbilek benefited from the retirement of second favourite Gregoire Barrere of France in the stage of the last four at the score of 4-6, 6-3, 1-1. Barrere was forced to stop playing on Pista Memorial Fabián Dorado due to a right calf injury.
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Meanwhile under the lights on Court 2, Ilkel stopped the run of Belgian qualifier Michael Geerts, winning 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4. The No. 4 seed fired 13 aces and won 88 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after two hours and 42 minutes.
“It could have gone either way,” Ilkel told Tennis TourTalk after the match, which finished half past midnight local time. “I had a match point in the second set but I couldn’t get it. He played a great tie-break, so I needed to keep my head straight. I broke him in the first game of the third set and then held my serve to win.”
Ilkel was also involved in the last Challenger final between two Turkish player when he finished runner-up to Marsel Ilhan at Izmir in 2016.
“It is always fun to play against a Turkish guy. Who ever wins, I am happy. We are staying in the same room. Let’s see who poisons the other one tonight,” Ilkel laughed. “We practice together, we grew up together. I met him when I was six years old. We know each others shots. It’s gonna be fun.”
Their head-to-head record is tied at 3-3.
Sijsling/van Rijthoven clinch doubles title
Earlier in the evening, Igor Sijsling and Tim van Rijthoven captured their first team title. The Dutchmen rallied past second seeds Sergio Martos Gornes of Spain and Diego Hidalgo from Ecuador 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-5 after one hour and 35 minutes.
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“We had to stay positive and we had to make more returns,” Sijsling told Tennis TourTalk about the key to success. “At the beginning, they were cruising through their service games we were catching up. Then we got a couple more returns and passed them a couple of times and they started to play more shaky.”
Sijsling, who is a regular guest in Pozoblanco, captured his first ATP Challenger doubles title since Mons 2013 alongside his compatriot Jesse Huta Galung. Van Rijthoven made his debut in the Andalusian town.
“The performance here overall was pretty good. It was pretty tough, as we both met in the second round here in singles. Otherwise, we would have gone a bit further in singles as well. It is kind of strange to play all those evening matches and we had to change our rhythm a bit. We must say for our doubles it is not that bad playing that late,” van Rijthoven said after lifting his second doubles trophy of the season. The 24-year-old, who travels with former doubles World No. 1 Paul Haarhuis, was also successful with Jesper de Jong in late May in Oeiras, Portugal.