Overlooked for selection in Beijing, Dudi Sela reached the final of the China Open before succumbing to former world No. 1 Andy Roddick.
Sela had controversially been denied the chance to compete in the Beijing Olympics by the Israel Olympic Committee because he was not ranked in the top 50. Last week, when he finally made it to Beijing, he emphatically showed them the error of their decision with the best tennis of his career.
Sela's performance saw him rise 26 places to 66 in the world rankings and earn $45,000 in prize money. En route to his first ever ATP final, the 23-year-old Israeli achieved a career-best victory in the second round with a straight sets win over world number five, Spain's David Ferrer. He also triumphed over Nicolas Devoder (61), Tommy Robredo (16) and Rainer Schuettler (35) without losing a set.
"I showed myself I can compete with the big players," said Sela, who became the first Israeli to play in an ATP final since Harel Levy lost in Nottingham seven years ago. "But overall I can take a lot of satisfaction from this tournament. It feels very special, especially because all of Israel is watching on TV. I'm really happy. I feel amazing. I hope this won't be my last ATP final."
Roddick said: "Sela was undoubtedly the best player in the tournament."