Israel’s Yoni Erlich.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For the first time in more than five years, Yoni Erlich is looking forward to a second week of a Grand Slam tournament after going on an unlikely run at Wimbledon with German Philipp Petzschner.
The 38-year-old Erlich is playing with his eighth different partner of the year and the two were forced to come through the qualifiers due to their lowly ranking. However, Erlich, ranked No. 90 in the world, and Petzschner (113) became the first team to book its place in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon on Saturday, beating Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the third round for a fifth consecutive victory together.
Their next opponents will be the winners of Monday’s third round match between No. 2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, and Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen.
Since last playing with Andy Ram on the ATP Tour in the Australian Open in January 2014, Erlich has time and againchanged partners, recording little success.
The last time he reached the second week of a Grand Slam event was at the Australian Open in 2010 and he is one win away from matching his best appearance at Wimbledon, which came back in 2003 in his breakthrough tournament with Ram.
Erlich has already earned £21,500 simply by reaching the quarterfinals, more than doubling his total prize money so far this year.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal may have left the stage but the smooth progress into Wimbledon’s second week of the remaining members of tennis’s established power base suggests further upsets are unlikely in the men’s last 16 on Monday.
The ‘Big Four’ have been whittled down to a top three, but for Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, who were largely untroubled in their opening matches, there seems no end on the horizon to their dominance at the All England Club.
The trio, along with Nadal, have had a monopoly on the Wimbledon title after Lleyton Hewitt beat David Nalbandian to lift the Challenge Cup trophy in 2002.
On the evidence of the first week, only Stan Wawrinka, winner of two of the last six majors including last month’s French Open, looks capable of stealing a march on the top three.
The hard work of maintaining promising starts, however, is likely to begin with more testing encounters on Monday.
The relentless retriever Djokovic faces the towering figure of Kevin Anderson, Federer’s quest for a record eighth Wimbledon title continues against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut and Murray faces the huge-serving Ivo Karlovic.
In the women’s singles, Serena Williams faces her sister Venus in the most intriguing contest in the last 16.
With her heart racing as she stood two points from defeat in her third round match at Wimbledon, Serena looked in serious danger of missing out on a 26th on-court date with older sister Venus.
For a fleeting second, the American even contemplated finding “a dance class” while she “hung around to watch Venus play” as brave Brit Heather Watson looked like she would deny the sisters a chance to renew their Wimbledon rivalry by toppling the world number one.
Those dance classes were soon a distant memory as US, Australian and French Open champion Serena kept alive her dreams of completing the “Serena Slam” by setting up a fifth All England Club showdown with her sister.
A contest that will feature two women who between them have hoisted the Rosewater Dish 10 times since 2000 has the potential to be a classic but could very well turn out to be the ultimate anti-climax as has been the case in many of their meetings.
Serena leads their overall headto- head 14-11, and is 3-2 at the grasscourt major having won their last Grand Slam meeting in straight sets in the 2009 Wimbledon final.
Reuters contributed to this report