Dudi Sela slams Israeli tennis
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Dudi Sela took 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny to four sets but he believes that Israeli tennis has little to cheer
Dudi Sela has predicted a bleak future for Israeli tennis following his first-round exit against 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny from Russia.
Clearly aggrieved following a recent falling out with the authorities back home, Sela (65) and Shahar Peer are Israel's only singles players in the top 100 of the men's and ladies world rankings.
Sela said: "The Israel Tennis Centre is not doing a good job. They are terrible. I think that over the next two to three years, Israel will slip into the third group in the world. There are no good, young players coming through and they keep choosing the wrong people and the wrong staff. But the Israel Tennis Federation are OK."
With the London 2012 tennis competition being held at Wimbledon, Sela is not confident about being selected. "The criteria hasn't changed. I don't think that I'll get selected as the competition is on grass." Sela was unable to reproduce the form that saw him oust Marat Safin on his way to round four last year although he gave the powerful Russian a run for his money.
"I started very badly," said Sela who expects to drop out of the top 100. "He didn't do anything, but played long rallies." After losing the first two sets 6-3, 6-3, Sela hit back in the third, winning it 6-4. "I played more solidly and didn't try any crazy shots."
The Israeli had two set points in the fourth but he was unable to take the match into a fifth and decisive set. "I had my chances but I played too negatively. I felt good going into the tie-break and my aim was to play solid tennis, but it wasn't to be."
Sela was ruing coming up against a top 20 player first up. "The draw is very important at Wimbledon. You expect a player ranked 13th in the world to be good on hard courts and grass."
Reflecting on a tough year which saw him slip down the rankings, Sela said: "Over the last 12 months, I had a bad schedule and played too many tournaments. I suffered a hip injury and when I returned I felt very confident. I spent six weeks in the United States, playing at my favourite tournaments, earning lots of points."
Sela was full of praise for compatriot Shahar Peer, who was looking to break into the top 10 in the ladies rankings. "Shahar has been playing very well. Her coach has done an amazing job and I think that she's a top 10 player for sure."
Sela was impressed to hear about Wimbledon rivals Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi taking a stand to promote the Peace and Sport at one of the world's top sporting events. He said: "I will definitely speak to them about it and hope to get involved."