Wimbledon ended before it started for crestfallen Israeli star Harel Levy whose hopes of making the main draw were dashed in the first round of the singles qualifying tournament in Roehampton.
Ranked 30 in the world in 2001, Levy had claimed the scalps of Pete Sampras in his prime but he was forced to try to qualify because his world ranking of 159 was too low for direct entry. He lost 6-2, 7-5 to Frederic Niemeyer, Canada’s world No 237.
But 29-year-old Levy, who won back his place in Israel’s Davis Cup team this year following a three-year absence, will still be at Wimbledon, playing in the doubles with his American partner Jim Thomas.
Back on British grass where he suffered the horrific injury which plunged his world ranking from a
career high to beyond 300, Levy marked his return by reaching the Surbiton Trophy doubles final with American Thomas earlier this month.
But they were denied the title by French pair Arnaud Clement and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Levy and Thomas dropped the first set 7-6, won the second by the same score but lost the deciding champions tie-break 10-7.
Surbiton also provided a useful singles warm-up for Levy, who reached the quarter-finals with convincing victories over Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and British No 3 Alex Bogdanovic
before going out 6-4, 6-3 to France’s Adrian Mannarino.
But he is just happy still to be playing after suffering his career-threatening injury against American Andy Roddick in the 2001 Nottingham semi-final.
“I slipped on the grass and threw the cartilage in my right hip. I was out for a long time and it’s been tough to recover,” said Levy.
A similar injury ended the careers of Brazilian star Gustavo Kuerten and Sweden’s Magnus Norman and Levy said: “No-one else has recovered from it.
“Norman had the same surgery and couldn’t recover and Guga has just retired with the same problem. I was on crutches for three months and returned to action after six but it took me two years to get back to normal. By that time I was 300 in the world. It’s been a hard road back.”
But, following Surbiton where he last played in a junior tournament 13 years previously, Levy added: “I’m feeling good at the moment.”
Andy Murray’s former coach Brad Gilbert feels the British number one is a serious contender to win
Having split with Murray in November 2007 after working with him for 16 months, in which time he helped Murray rise into the world’s top 10, Gilbert said: “Andy is one of the five best grass-courters in the world. A lot depends on the draw but if he plays really well on grass and moves well, he should have a good opportunity.”
Ones to watch
Men’s singles: Dudi Sela
Men’s doubles: *Andy Ram and *Jonathan Erlich, Harel Levy
Women’s singles: Shahar Peer, Tzipora Obziler, Stephanie Cohen- Aloro (France)
* - also playing mixed doubles