Israeli tennis star Olga Fridman.
(photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Olga Fridman may still be officially representing Ukraine, but on Saturday she became the new Israel national tennis champion.
The 17-year-old, ranked No. 276 in the world, surprised No. 1 seed Julia Glushko (126) 6-2, 6-2 in the rain-postponed final in Ramat Hasharon, steamrolling the favorite in a mere 47 minutes.
Despite already holding Israeli citizenship and living in the country in recent years, Fridman remains listed as a Ukrainian player, although she hopes not for much longer.
“I’d really like to represent Israel, but at the moment it depends on my parents. I really love the country and I believe it will eventually happen,” said Fridman.
“I’m really excited at winning, but to be honest I was expecting more of a fight from Julia.”
Fridman said she wasn’t surprised by her win and spoke of her goals for the new season.
“I didn’t think it would be such an easy match, but this isn’t the first time that I have faced a player ranked higher than me,” added Fridman, who besides an Israeli father also has an Israeli manager, fitness coach and boyfriend (tennis player Ben Patael). “I plan to play in bigger tournaments this year and my goal is to be in the top 100 by the end of the year.”
Fridman broke serve in the first game of the match and never looked back.
Glushko finally got on the board by winning the fourth game, but that barely slowed down her opponent, who wrapped up the first set in 24 minutes. It was a similar story in the second set, with Fridman taking four games in a row to open an unassailable 5-1 lead.
Glushko, who was a massive favorite to claim the title for the fourth time in five years with Shahar Pe’er skipping the tournament to train in the US, consoled herself with the doubles title.
Julia and younger sister Lena saved four match points in a row in the third set tiebreak before claiming a 6-2, 6-7 (6), 11-9 win over Alona Pushkarevsky and Yael Beckman.
Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub will renew their rivalry at the Israel national tennis championships when they meet at Ramat Hasharon on Sunday in the final which was postponed by two days due to the rainy weather.
Sela and Weintraub clashed in the final five years in a row before the latter was forced to miss last year’s tournament due to injury. Sela is looking to win his third straight national title and sixth in total, while Weintraub is targeting his third national title, but a first since 2012.
Sela and Weintraub will team up later in the day to play in the doubles final against Yoni Erlich and Andy Ram, who came out of retirement for a week to play with his former partner.