Dudi Sela caused one of the upsets of the week after staging a miraculous comeback to win his first-round match in Melbourne.
Ranked 106th in the world, Sela appeared to be down and out after Germany’s Rainer Schuettler blasted the diminutive Israeli off the court in a first-set pummelling.
But the dogged Sela, from Kiryat Shmona, turned the tide in the subsequent sets, overcoming the No. 30 seed in four; 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was good, but tough to play today because it was windy,” said Sela, 23.
“I didn’t play well at the start, but the conditions encouraged me to come to the net more.”
Sela, who had to win three pre-tournament qualifying matches to enter the main draw, has never before gone beyond the second round at a Grand Slam event. He came within two points of ousting Russian hothead and former world No. 1 Marat Safin in a dramatic five-set second round match in 2007.
He was scheduled to meet Romania’s unseeded Victor Hanescu in the second round yesterday. The players have claimed a win apiece in previous meetings.
American Wayne Odesnik bowed out in the first round. He went down 7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to Croatian Mario Ancic.
There was disappointment for Israel’s leading lady Shahar Peer. She crashed out in the first round, going down 6-3, 6-2 to 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki. Tzipi Obziler lost in the second qualifying round of the singles.
Doubles supremo Andy Ram began the defence of the title he won with Yoni Erlich. Partnered by Max Mirnyi, the ninth seeds won a three-setter against Greg Jones and Peter Luczak.
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