May 10th 2010
In a final that lasted over three hours, Conor Niland defeated the number 4 seed Thiago Alves (BRA) 57 76(5) 63 on Saturday morning to win the $100,000 Challenger event in Ramat Hasharon.
Alves, who has a ranking of 127 was the favourite to win but as David Kaplan reports on the Israel Open website, “there is no “sure thing’ in tennis”. He went on to describe the atmosphere on centre court as the final was taking place “Some youngsters had cottoned onto corrupting the Brazilian’s surname ‘Alves’ by screaming “Elvis" after the legendary rocker, while others were bellowing, “Let’s go Niland, let’s go.” The atmosphere was electric, and the Israeli crowd had taken to both players equally. It made no matter that there was no Israeli in the single’s final, because the folk were simply enjoying superb tennis’.
Niland qualified for the finals after defeating German, Denis Gremelmayr on Friday evening in the semi finals on a scoreline 7-5 6-1. Gremelmayr is currently ranked 324 but has a career high ranking of 59. Earlier this year he qualified for the semi finals of the mens singles and won the doubles at the Egypt F1 Futures in Giza.
In the quarterfinals, Niland had a 2-6 6-4 6-2 win over local player Harel Levy (ISR) who was seeded no. 2 in the event and he defeated Rainer Schuettler of Germany in the second round on a scoreline 7-5 4-6 6-4.
Schuettler, who has a career high ranking of no. 5 in the world, won his first Challenger title in 1997 winning the Eckental Challenger. In 2003, he advanced to his first career Grand Slam final at Australian Open with wins over Krajicek (2nd), Blake (4th), Nalbandian (QF) and Roddick (SF) before losing to Agassi in the final. In 2008, he achieved a place in the semi final at Wimbledon but was defeated 1-6 6-7(3) 4-6 by Nadal.
Following this win, Niland is the current Irish No. 1. Earlier this year, he achieved a place in the third round of qualifying of the Australian Open and was a member of the Irish team that defeated Turkey in March. More recently he reached the quarter final of the mens singles at the Jersey Challenger at the end of March.
Israel Open 2010