Ram-less Israel in for a first-round adventure in France
By ALLON SINAI
Tennis star fails to recover from the hip injury that has kept him out of action in the past four months.
Any minuscule chance Israel may have had of overcoming France in the first round
of the Davis Cup World Group in Rouen this weekend likely evaporated on Thursday
after it was announced that Andy Ram had failed to recover from the hip injury
that has kept him out of action in the past four months.
Ram, who injured
his hip during Israel’s 3-2 victory over Japan in the World Group playoffs in
September, said last week that “I’m going to play with Yoni as always and I hope
to claim a win as always.”
However, despite his optimistic words, he was
ruled unfit on Thursday and will be replaced in the doubles match by Dudi Sela,
who will team-up with Yoni Erlich.
Noam Okun, who retired two years ago
and traveled to France as a coach, will take Ram’s place on the team to provide
backup should another player fall ill or suffer an injury.
disappointed that I’m not fit, but unfortunately I am physically unable to take
part in this tie,” Ram said.
“I will try and help the team with my
experience and by supporting it from the sidelines.”
Even with a fully
fit Ram Israel would have entered the tie as a massive underdog, with France’s
squad boasting world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, another top-10 player in Richard
Gasquet (10) and veteran doubles experts Julien Benneteau and Michael
Tsonga beat Gasquet in the fourth round of the Australian Open
last week before losing to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals in
There was at least some good news on the injury front for
Israel on Thursday, with Amir Weintraub being passed fit to play after
recovering from a foot infection.
Weintraub (173), who won his first ever
Grand Slam main draw match in Melbourne, was drawn to face Tsonga in the opening
singles rubber on Friday, with Sela (106) to play Gasquet in the second match of
Sela and Erlich are expected to come up against Benneteau and
Llodra in Saturday’s doubles match and Israel will be delighted if it’s still
alive in the best-of-five tie entering the reverse singles on Sunday.
were expecting Ram to be fit, but unfortunately he’s not ready for a five-set
match and playing on Saturday could risk the rest of his season,” said captain
“As a result, a great responsibility will fall on our leading
player, Dudi Sela. We prepared ourselves for this scenario during the week and
we know Dudi will do his best.”
Sela is looking forward to three busy
“This is the first time in over three years that I was drawn to
play second in the opening day, but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad,” said
Sela. “I feel good and I’m in great shape and I’m determined to win my match.”