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(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Allon Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich failed to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for a fifth successive time Monday morning, losing 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, to Indian Mahesh Bhupathi and Czech Radek Stepanek in the third round of the Australian Open.
The Israelis, who were seeded seventh in the tournament, have struggled with their form so far this year, losing in their first two matches of the season.
"We played well against very tough opponents and things didn't go our way in the third set," Ram told Army Radio. "Yoni suffered from an injury at the start of the year and he is only now returning to form. I'm sure that the rest of our season will be much better. We will improve."
Ram and Erlich got the first break of the match in the eighth game of the first set, but were broken back immediately and the set went into a tiebreak after both teams held their serve.
After splitting the first six points of the breaker, Bhupathi and Stepanek took four of the next five points and clinched the first set.
The start of the second set went according to serve until Ram and Erlich broke to love in the seventh game and grabbed a 4-3 lead. Theys held their serve for the rest of the set and completed a 6-3 victory.
Ram and Erlich came back from 2-0 at the start of the final set and tied the score. But Bhupathi and Stepanek claimed four of the next five games and booked their spot in the quarterfinals.
Ram's participation in the mixed doubles tournament also ended Monday, when he and his Russian partner, Vera Zvonareva, lost 7-6 (1), 6-4, to Chris Guccione and Casey Dellacqua in the first round of the competition.