Ram reached mixed doubles semis

By Dan Goldberg, January 28, 2009
Israeli tennis ace Andy Ram

Israeli tennis ace Andy Ram

Israeli tennis ace Andy Ram qualified for the mixed doubles finals at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Ram and his playing partner, Natalie Dechy of France, will face the Spanish No. 7 seeds, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Tommy Robredo on Thursday for a berth in the final of the first Grand Slam of the year.

The unseeded pair defeated Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in straight sets in the quarter-final, 7-5, 6-1 in just 58 minutes.

As the temperature soared past 43 degrees celsius, officials implemented the extreme heat policy, forcing the cancellation of all matches on outside courts.

Ram and Dechy, who were semi-finalists here last year, were originally scheduled to play at the open air Margaret Court Arena, but the match was switched at the last minute to Hisense Arena, and played under a closed roof. Melbourne is bracing for the worst heatwave in a century, with forecasts of 40-plus degrees for the next three days. Despite being broken early in the first set, the Israeli-French duo broke back twice to take the set 7-5.

In the second set, Ram and Dechy steamrolled past their opponents. “I’m playing well, I’m exploding on the court,” Ram said after the match. He said he was confident he could win the tournament. “I hope I play as good as I’ve been playing so far. Every time I play I have the feeling I can win.” The pair defeated the No. 4 seeds, Jamie Murray and Liezel Huber, in the second round.

Ram has won more grand slams than any other Israeli: in 2006, he won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Russia’s Vera Zvonareva.

In 2007, he and Dechy won the French Open mixed doubles title; and last year at the Australian Open, Ram and his longstanding male partner, Yoni Erlich, won the Australian Open doubles championship – the first all-Israeli duo to win a grand slam.

With the No. 1 seeds, Cara Black and Leander Paes, ousted in second round this year, and Garrigues and Robredo the only seeds remaining, Ram and Dechy have a fair chance of winning the trophy from the 32 teams that qualified for the competition. “Anything can happen in mixed doubles,” Ram said.

Last updated: 5:01pm, February 19 2009