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Hit and miss in Brazil

Portuguese tennis No1 and current world No68 Rui Machado made a great start to the ATP Challenger Tour Finals which took place in Sao Paulo last weekend.

The 27-year-old from Faro emerged victorious from his first two round-robin group phase encounters with Mathias Bachinger and Dudi Sela and looked to have done enough to secure a place amongst the last four.

Unfortunately a subsequent defeat to Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe coupled with a set dropped against Bachinger meant that the Algarvean finished only third in the standings and was thus eliminated.

The 21-year-old Stebe, one of the fastest risers on the Challenger Tour this season, went on to win the year-ending tournament, a fact which only provided scant consolation for his previous victim.

Machado will now enjoy a richly deserved rest while still taking part in the Portuguese national championships scheduled to begin in Guimaraes on Monday before preparing to take his place in the main draw of the Australian Open at the end of January.