No more Israelis remaining in Aussie Open

Sela and Erlich both lose first-round doubles matches • Shapovalov ousted • Wozniacki rallies

January 18, 2018 05:34
3 minute read.
No more Israelis remaining in Aussie Open

ISRAEL-BORN 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov (above) was defeated in five-sets by South Africa’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga yesterday, falling 3-6 6-3 1-6 7-6(4) 7-5 in an instant classic. Playing in only his third Grand Slam – and first time in Melbourne – Shapovalov would have been a worthy winner ha. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israeli representation in the senior events at the Australian Open came to an end on Wednesday following exits for both Dudi Sela and Yoni Erlich in the first round of the men’s doubles tournament.

After falling to American Ryan Harrison in five sets in the first round of the singles, Sela and Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano suffered a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4) loss to Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald.

Israel’s Yoni Erlich, who will turn 41 in April and arrived in Melbourne on the back of winning the Challenger Tour title in Canberra with Indian Divij Sharan, was hoping to make a deep run with 45-year-old Canadian Daniel Nestor, 10 years after winning the doubles title Down Under with Andy Ram.

However, Erlich failed to make it past the first round in Melbourne for a third straight year, with the Israeli/Canadian duo losing 7-6 (4), 6-3 to Radu Albot and Hyeon Chung.

Later Wednesday, Sela and Erlich were both named as expected in Israel’s Davis Cup squad for the upcoming Group I tie in South Africa on February 2-3.

The team announced by captain Harel Levy also includes Edan Leshem, Igor Smilansky and Daniel Cukierman.

In other action, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal claimed a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Leonardo Mayer of Argentina to reach the third round in Melbourne for the 12th time.

Nadal’s bid for a 17th Grand Slam title continues against Bosnian 28th seed Damir Dzumhur.

Also, former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came back from 5-2 down in the final set to beat Israel-born Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 in three hours and 37 minutes.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios gained momentum as the home favorite outclassed Serbian Viktor Troicki to move into the third round without dropping a set.

The 17th seed’s volatile temperament was tested by one noisy fan and then by a hovering helicopter, but he remained focused enough to win 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(2).

Kyrgios will now face Tsonga in what promises to be a standout clash on Friday.

Sixth seed Marin Cilic hit 40 winners, including 20 aces, on his way to a 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 second- round victory over Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Cilic will next face American Ryan Harrison, who beat Uruguay’s 31st seed Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Pablo Carreno Busta, a US Open semifinalist last year, was the first player from the men’s field through to the third round after the 10th seed’s opponent, Gilles Simon, retired hurt while trailing 6-2, 3-0.

Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to reach the third round of the Australian Open in 40 years when he edged Japan’s Yuichi Sugita in five sets in searing heat on Wednesday.

Old warrior Karlovic, 39 next month, served down 53 aces as he came through 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10 in four hours, 33 minutes – the longest match in the tournament so far.

Karlovic will face Italian Andreas Seppi in round three when he will be the oldest player to contest that round since Ken Rosewall, aged 44, in 1978 when the field was only 64 players.

In the women’s draw, world No.

2 Caroline Wozniacki roared back from 5-1 down in the final set, saving two match points, to beat Croatian Jana Fett 3-6 6-2 7-5.

French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko fired 35 winners past China’s Duan Yingying to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 second-round victory, while fourth seed Elina Svitolina came from a set down to beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 and book a spot in the third round.

Ukrainian Svitolina will next face 15-year-old compatriot Marta Kostyuk, who beat Australian wild-card Olivia Rogowska 6-3 7-5. Kostyuk is the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam third round since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the 1997 US Open.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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