Cool Dudi in bid to end Israeli drought on clay

By Simon Griver, May 21, 2009

Dudi Sela goes into Monday’s French Open boosted by the news that he has risen to a career high ranking of 55. But the 24-year-old Israeli will not be encouraged by his form on clay as his preparations for Roland Garros ended prematurely with a first-round defeat at the Austrian Open.

Playing on his least favourite surface, Sela hopes to improve on his last two performances in Paris when he has failed to progress beyond the first round.

With Shahar Peer absent through injury, Israel’s best chance of success comes in the men’s doubles with Andy Ram and Max Mirnyi ranked fourth in the world. Ram will also be hoping to recapture the mixed doubles title he won in Paris with Nathalie Dechy in 2007.

Jonathan Erlich will partner Rohan Bopanna of India. Erlich has shown enormous character by bouncing back strongly from injury, despite being told that Ram will be playing the rest of the season with Mirnyi in order to qualify for the Masters tournament in London in November.

Erlich paired up with Harel Levy to win the Challenger doubles tournament in Izmir, Turkey, last week.

Although Erlich initially took news of his split with his long-time doubles partner badly, the pair were seen training together in Herzliya. Erlich refused to discuss the split but Ram was happy to talk, stressing: “Yoni and I are still good friends and most of what has been written about us is rubbish.”

The swift reconciliation is great news for Israel ahead of the Davis Cup quarter final against Russia in July.

Last updated: 3:30pm, May 21 2009