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Andy Ram's and Yoni Erlich's hopes of reaching the season-ending tennis Masters Cup are hanging by a thread after the duo lost 7-6 (1), 2-6, 11-9 to Eric Butorac and Frantisek Cermak in the first round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Monday.
The Israelis, who are currently ranked No. 7 in the ATP doubles race, will only maintain their current position and qualify for the prestigious event in China should Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi, who are ranked No. 8, lose their second round match in Paris. Eight doubles teams will take part in the Masters Cup, but the No. 10 ranked team of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement have already booked their place in the tournament by winning Wimbledon, so only the world's top seven ranked duo's will play in China.
Ram and Erlich, who could also reach the Masters Cup should any of the team's ranked ahead of them choose to pull-out, squandered a match point an encounter that lasted for an hour and 30 minutes.
After splitting the first 12 games on Monday, Butorac and Cermak dominated the tiebreaker, winning seven of the breaker's eight points.
The Israelis claimed the first break of the match in the second game of the second set and broke once more to send the encounter into a decisive match tiebreaker.
Butorac and Cermak opened a 5-2 lead, but Ram and Erlich took three straight points and eventually reached a match point, leading 9-8. The Israelis, however, missed their chance and Butorac and Cermak claimed three consecutive points to wrap-up the win.
Also on Monday, Dudi Sela climbed 19 places to a new career best No. 73 in the world in the new ATP rankings. Shahar Pe'er, who has ended her season, remained at No. 18 in the WTA rankings,