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Israelis barrel through Melbourne qualifying draw
By ALLON SINAI
01/11/2013
Sela will play Michael Berrer (135) for a place in the main draw, with the German winning their only previous career meeting.
 
Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub closed to within a single victory of a place in the Australian Open main draw on Thursday, advancing to the third and final round of the qualifying tournament in Melbourne.

Sela, ranked No. 114 in the world and seeded No. 3 in the qualifiers, needed one hour and eight minutes to beat Igor Kunitsyn (162) 6-2, 6-3, losing just 12 points on his serve throughout the match and never facing a break point.

Sela will play Michael Berrer (135) for a place in the main draw on Saturday, with the German winning their only previous career meeting in Brisbane two years ago.

Weintraub (196), who is looking to reach a main draw of a Grand Slam event for the first time in his career, will face Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (179) of Argentina on Saturday after claiming a second straight three-set win on Thursday.

Weintraub defeated Radu Albot (220) 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-0 in two hours and 12 minutes, winning 12 of the final 14 games to progress to the third round of the qualifiers in a major for the first time ever.

Israel also had success in the women’s qualifiers on Thursday, with Julia Glushko (177) beating Mariana Dugue-Marino (144) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to advance to the second round.

Glushko will play Tereza Mrdeza (219) for a place in the third round on Friday.

Elsewhere, Agnieszka Radwanska needed eight match points to finish off Li Na on Thursday but confirmed her fine pre-Australian Open form by maintaining her perfect start to the year and reaching the final of the Sydney International.

The Polish top seed was well worth the 6-3, 6-4 win over her Chinese opponent and will face Dominika Cibulkova in Friday’s final after the Slovakian stunned German second seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

“I think I was really playing good tennis the last couple of days,” said Radwanska, who also won the Auckland Classic last week and has started the year with eight straight wins. “I hope I can continue playing at this level.”

David Ferrer has played six fewer matches than Radwanska this year but really hit his stride on Thursday when he swept aside Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-1 to remain on course for a fourth title at the Auckland Open.

The Spaniard, who like Radwanska will be seeded fourth at Melbourne Park next week, needed just 54 minutes to beat his Slovak opponent and set up a semifinal against France’s Gael Monfils, who later beat Tommy Haas 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Reuters contributed to this report
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