World no. 455 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe has been using protected ranking recently, coming back from an injury and playing unranked just two months ago. Scoring the first ATP win since the US Open 2017, Stebe has played on a very high level this week in Gstaad, claiming two wins on Saturday to advance into the first ATP final at the age of 28!
In the first match of the day, Cedrik-Marcel defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours, taking some rest and delivering another rock-solid triumph over the 5th seed Jao Sousa for a career-best result! The German notched a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win in two hours after many rain delays, dominating in sets two and three to advance into the first ATP final.
Sousa earned four breaks but his serve wasn't on the desired level, facing 16 break chances and giving serve away seven times to propel the rival through. The encounter kicked off with four breaks and it was Sousa who claimed the last three games from 3-3, breaking Stebe at 4-3 and sealing the opener with a service winner a few games later.
Cedrik-Marcel had the upper hand in set number two, dropping six points on serve and securing a break in game two with a forehand down the line winner. The German grabbed another break at 4-1 after a double fault from Sousa, taking the set with an unreturned serve in the next game and setting up a decider.
There, they traded breaks in games one and four and a left-hander moved in front with a break at 15 at 2-2, fending off one break chance and forging a 5-2 advantage with a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner, firing another one in the eighth game to book the spot in the title match.
There, Cedrik-Marcel will face Albert Ramos-Vinolas who defeated the fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 53 minutes for the first ATP final since Quito last year. Albert has been struggling to find the form that carried him towards the Masters 1000 final in 2017 but there was nothing wrong with his tennis in the last three weeks, competing in the semi-final last week in Bastad and making a step further in Gstaad.
It was the first clash between these two since Roland Garros 2015 and only the second win for Ramos-Vinolas, repelling six out of eight break points and delivering three breaks from four opportunities to prevail in straight sets.
Andujar converted the sixth chance on the return at 4-3 to gain the advantage, losing serve in the very next game while serving for the opener. Ramos-Vinolas claimed the tie break 7-3, clinching the victory with a late break at 5-4 in set number two to seal the deal and stay on the title course, the first since Bastad 2016.