ISRAEL’S lone competitor in the singles draw at the French Open, Dudi Sela.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela’s hopes of reaching a first ATP Tour semifinal in almost two years were dashed on Thursday with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the quarterfinals in Nottingham.
Sela, ranked No. 71 in the world, was playing in his first ATP Tour quarterfinal since losing to Denis Kudla in the last eight in Atlanta last July. The 31-year-old last played in a semifinal on his way to the final in Atlanta in the summer of 2014.
Sela got off to an encouraging start against Seppi (57), saving two break points in the 11th game before wrapping up the first set with the first break of the contest in the subsequent game. Seppi seized the momentum with a break in the third game of the second set and soon tied the match.
The Italian broke once more in the third game of the third set, and despite saving two match points to stay alive in the ninth game, Sela was unable to complete a comeback and was beaten after two hours and two minutes.
Nevertheless, Sela will be encouraged by his play in Nottingham ahead of the start of Wimbledon next Monday. He will once more be the lone Israeli in the singles events at a Grand Slam tournament after both Amir Weintraub and Julia Glushko were knocked out in the first round of the qualifiers earlier this week. Shahar Pe’er missed the qualifiers through injury.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon will be Andy Murray’s first true test after teaming up once more with coach Ivan Lendl. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has dominated Murray since losing to him in the 2013 Wimbledon final, said he was not surprised by the move.
“I don’t think it’s a surprising decision from Andy,” said Djokovic, who is halfway to a calendar Grand Slam after beating Murray in the Australian and French Open finals.
“When Ivan was his coach before, Andy won a couple of Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, some of the best results of his career so I think it was a logical move for him to take. They’re a good team so it’s going to be interesting.”
With eight-time Grand Slam champion Lendl at his side Murray beat Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics, then repeated the trick a few weeks later to claim his first Grand Slam title at the US Open.
When Murray again beat Djokovic to end Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon winner a year later it seemed the Scot had the measure of the Serbian warrior.
Murray and Lendl split in March 2014 though, and Djokovic has since won 13 of their 15 meetings, most recently in the French Open final when Murray, who split with Amelie Mauresmo this year, subsided after a good start.
A few days later Murray re-hired Lendl and rolled on to a fifth title at Queen’s Club - marking him out as the man to end Djokovic’s hunt for a rare calendar slam.
Reuters contributed to this report.