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(photo credit: AP [file])
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich got their Wimbledon campaign off to a successful start on Thursday evening, defeating Alex Kuznetsov and Mischa Zverev 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the men's doubles tournament.
The Israelis, who are seeded seventh at the All England Club, have not advanced past the third round of the last six Grand Slam events they've played, a slump they will be keen to end with two more victories in the coming days.
A massive 60 winners, almost double the amount of Kuznetsov and Zverev, and an excellent break point conversion rate (three of four), ensured Ram and Erlich got the better of their inexperienced opponents.
In the second round, the Israelis will face Eric Butorac and Jamie Murray.
On Thursday, both teams held serve comfortably in the first set and split the first 12 games. Five straight points for the Israelis in the tiebreak opened an unassailable 6-1 advantage and gave the duo a one set lead.
The first set stayed with serve until the eighth game when Kuznetsov and Zverev recorded the first break of the match. In the subsequent game the German/American pair converted their third set point and tied the match.
The third set began with a love hold of serve for each team, but in the fourth game Ram and Erlich claimed their first break of the match and took a 3-1 lead.
A Ram ace in the following game extended the margin and a second break in the eighth game wrapped-up the set.
The Israelis struck once again in the fourth game of the fourth set and broke to take a 3-1 lead. The duo remained ahead throughout the set and completed the victory with an Erlich winner at the net in the ninth game.
Ram and Erlich will not be the only Israelis in the second round of the doubles tournament after Harel Levy and American Rajeev Ram defeated Slovakians Dominik Hrbaty and Michal Mertinak 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
In the second round Levy and Ram will play the winner of the match between Agustin Calleri and Nicolas Lapentti and the 15th seeded Argentinian pair of Martin Garcia and Sebastian Prieto.
Also on Thursday, Tzipi Obziler and partner Ashley Harkleroad lost 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, to Chinese duo Shuai Peng and Zi Yan. Obziler and Harkleroad led by a set and 4-2, but Peng and Yan took 10 of the last 12 games to clinch the match.
On Friday, Shahar Pe'er will play her first ever third round match at Wimbledon. The 16th seeded Israeli will face her good friend, world No. 19 Marion Bartoli, whom she's defeated in all previous five meetings.
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