Dudi Sela (right) and Deniz Khazaniuk (left) hold their trophies after claiming their respective Israel national tennis championship titles..
(photo credit: ALEX GOLDENSTEIN/ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Dudi Sela continued to dominate the Israel tennis championships on Friday with a fourth consecutive triumph, while Deniz Khazaniuk opened what she hopes will be her breakthrough season with a maiden national title.
Sela, ranked No. 96 in the world, had little trouble overcoming firsttime finalist Daniel Cukierman 6-3, 6-4 for his seventh national title overall, two shy of the record held by Shlomo Glickstein and Yehoshua Shalem.
The 21-year-old Cukierman, ranked No. 530 in the world, stunned Amir Weintraub (231) in the semifinals and registered the first break in both sets on Friday.
Sela was never really troubled though, winning the tournament without dropping a set.
“I’m feeling good and I’m hoping I’ll have a good 2017 on the ATP Tour,” said Sela. “I experienced a bit of a drop after the Olympic Games last summer and I’m hoping to return to the top 50 next year.”
Cukierman was pleased with his performance in Ra’anana.
“As a child I watched Sela in Davis Cup matches and it was a dream for me to play him in the final,” said Cukierman.
The 22-year-old Khazaniuk (247) dropped just two games to 17-year-old Maya Tahan (1,222) in the women’s final, claiming a 6-1, 6-1 win. An eight-game run gave Khazaniuk a one-set and 4-0 lead which she was never going to squander.
“I’ve been practicing for years to win this title,” said Khazaniuk, who made the most of the absence of Julia Glushko and Shahar Pe’er.
“This is a dream come true. I really wanted to win this title.
“I hope I can make it into the Australian Open qualifiers,” she added.
“I’m enjoying an excellent period and I hope it continues.”
Khazaniuk is hoping her triumph in Ra’anana will lead to her return to Israel’s Fed Cup squad from which she has been absent since falling out with Pe’er and Glushko and attacking them in an interview she gave over four years ago.
“It is not my decision and it is difficult to forget what happened in the past,” said Khazaniuk. “I represent the country when I’m on tour, but doing so for the national team is different.”