Israel's Dudi Sela celebrates after winning his second round match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 21, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela’s hopes of reaching the last-16 of a Grand Slam tournament for just the second time in his career were dashed on Saturday with a disappointing 7-5, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4) defeat to Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia in the third round of the Australian Open.
Sela, ranked No. 87 in the world, succeeded where Rafael Nadal failed when he subdued Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the second round, but he couldn’t build on that win in Melbourne on Saturday, registering three more unforced errors than his opponent (44-41) and 20 fewer winners (53-33).
Kuznetsov registered the first break of the match in the 11th game and served out the first set to take a crucial lead after 40 minutes. Sela broke for the first time in the sixth game of the second set (4-2), but then lost his serve, only to break yet again to claim the set and tie the match.
However, he couldn’t build on the momentum, losing five games on the trot in the third set to lose it 6-1 in a mere 25 minutes. Kuznetsov also recorded the first break in the fourth set, but Sela bounced back and forced a tiebreak, although he couldn’t send the encounter into a decider.
“I had a good week and it is a shame it has ended,” said Sela. “I had an opportunity, but he played better than me. I’m happy I got the season off to a good start and I hope to continue this way. I would like to thank everyone for the support. We have a special country and people who never stop to support you and cheer you on. I really wanted to continue and progress in the tournament for everyone.”
Sela, cheered on by a flag-waving contingent of fans, was knocked out in the third round in Melbourne for a second straight year after losing to Nadal in the round of 32 in 2015.
He still only has one appearance in his career in a fourth round of a Grand Slam, reaching the second week in Wimbledon back in 2009.