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(photo credit: Getty Images/Pilot Pen Tennis)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich remained tantalizing close to booking their place at the season ending Masters Cup tournament in China after losing in the quarterfinals of the $800,000 Lyon Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. The Israelis, ranked seventh in the year-long ATP doubles race, lost to the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-4 and are still not assured of ending the season in the world's top eight teams and taking part in the season finale.
Ram and Erlich, twice champions at the indoor event in Lyon, will play in the ATP Masters Series tournament in Paris next week. Despite Friday's loss, they have a foot-and-a-half in the Masters Cup that will begin on November 13 in Shanghai. The Israeli duo would need to lose in the first round next week and see one of the teams trailing them to take the Madrid title to fall from the list for Shanghai.
The Israelis got off to an ideal start in Friday's quarterfinal, breaking their opponents serve in the first game of the match. However, the Frenchman broke back in the subsequent game and thanks to a second consecutive break in the fourth game of the set, took a lead they maintained until they completed a 6-3 first set win.
Benneteau and Clement continued their excellent serving in the second set and after breaking Ram and Erlich in the third game of set held on to their service games and cruised to a 6-4 victory.