Despite retiring five years ago, Noam Okun showed he can still beat the young generation of Israeli players by advancing to the semifinals of the national championships in Ramat Hasharon.
(photo credit: ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
The finalists at the Israel national tennis championships will be decided on Thursday in Ramat Hasharon.
Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub are each one win away from setting up a showdown in Friday’s title match after cruising to the last four on Wednesday.
Sela, the No. 1 seed and world No. 100, beat Daniel Tamir (1,207) 6-1, 6-2 and will next play Dekel Bar (859), who defeated Israel Davis Cup player Bar Botzer (587) 6-4, 6-2.
Weintraub (237) had little trouble overcoming Tal Goldengoren (877) 6-4, 6-1 and will meet long retired Noam Okun. The 37-year-old, who retired five years ago, showed he is still more than capable of competing with the young generation of local talent, defeating 18-year-old Ben Patael (746) 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Julia Glushko, the women’s No. 1 seed and world No. 126, brushed aside Keren Shlomo (581) 6-2, 6-2 and isn’t expected to encounter much trouble in the semis either when she meets Shelly Krolitzky (1,202), who beat Alona Pushkarevsky (951) 7-5, 6-2.
With Shahar Pe’er skipping the tournament to train in the US ahead of the new season, Glushko is a massive favorite to lift her fourth title in the past five years.
“I had many ups and downs in 2015 and I learned a lot about myself and about the people around me,” said Glushko. “One of the things I learned is not to enter a tournament unless I’m 100 percent fit. I wanted to end the year ranked higher and I’m training hard in order to get the new season off to the best start possible. I want to at least enter the top 100. I should be there and my goals are far loftier.”
In the other semi, Deniz Khazaniuk (298) will face 17-year-old Olga Fridman (276), who still officially represents Ukraine but is in the process of acquiring Israeli citizenship. Khazaniuk thrashed Ofri Lankri (634) 6-0, 6-1, while Fridman defeated Julia Glushko’s little sister Lena, 6-2, 7-5.
The men’s doubles final on Friday will be especially intriguing this year with Sela and Weintraub set to face Yoni Erlich and Andy Ram, who came out of retirement for a week to team up with his former partner.
Sela and Weintraub defeated Mor Bulis and Yankel Zemel 6-2, 7-6 (10) on Wednesday, while Ram and Erlich overcame Alon Elia and Igor Smilansky 6-3, 6-3.
The women’s doubles final on Thursday will see the Glushko sisters come up against Pushkarevsky and Yael Beckman.