Celikbilek Clinches Pozoblanco Challenger Crown

Altug Celikbilek (photo: Florian Heer)

POZOBLANCO, July 25, 2021

Altug Celikbilek is the champion of the 26th edition of the Open Ciudad de Pozoblanco. The No. 3 seed of the €44,820 ATP Challenger hard-court tournament emerged victorious from the all-Turkish final with Cem Ilkel, winning 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3 on a tropical Sunday evening in Southern Spain.

In front of a capacity crowd on Pista Memorial Fabián Dorado at the C.D. Open de Tenis Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Celikbilek set the tone early, broke his compatriot’s serve and took the opening set in only 25 minutes. In the seventh meeting between two good friends and practice partners, who were sharing a room in Pozoblanco, Ilkel found his rhythm in the second set and pushed the match the distance.

World No. 203 Celikbilek gained the decisive break in the eighth game of the final set to serve the match out after one hour and 47 minutes.


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“Since we were kids, we were dreaming of this moment,” Celikbilek told Tennis TourTalk. “I won today but in the end of the day, it wouldn’t have mattered if he would have won. I am really proud of me and also for him.” 

Asked about the key to success, he responded with a smile and said that he would know Ilkel since he was six years old. “I just tried to stay aggressive, as he is one of the most dangerous guys on the Challenger Tour. It didn’t work out for me in the second set, especially in the tie-break, that’s why he destroyed me in the set.”

And how will celebrations look like tonight? “We will go out and get some ice-cream. Then, we have to go back to business,” said Celikbilek, who will compete in the Open Castilla y Leon ATP Challenger in Segovia next week.

By lifting his second ATP Challenger Tour career trophy following his maiden triumph at the Porto Open in Portugal earlier this month, the 24-year-old pocketed €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points.