ram ehrlich davis cup 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich made a triumphant return to the ATP Tour on Wednesday, defeating top-seeds Michal Mertinak and Frantisek Cermak 6-3, 7-6 (7) to advance to the quarterfinals of the St. Petersburg Open.
The Israelis, who last teamed-up on tour in the US Open in August 2008, will next face the Russian duo of Igor Andreev and Mikhail Youzhny.
Ram and Erlich parted ways late last year following the latter's long-term elbow injury. While Ram, aged 29, has done well with different partners, especially Max Mirnyi, Erlich's comeback has not gone as smoothly. The 32-year-old fell all the way down to No. 268 in the world during his absence and subsequent subpar return.
The Israeli duo will play together in one more tournament in the coming weeks in the hope of helping Erlich to pick up some valuable ranking points, before Ram gets back together with Mirnyi ahead of their participation in the World Tour Finals in London next month.
"It seems as though every time I play with Andy our matches get closer," joked Erlich, who also played with his good friend in Israel's last two Davis Cup ties.
"He must think I'm his age and that my heart can take it. It was fun to be back on tour after so long, especially with Andy. The energy levels were excellent and the level of play was very high."
Safina pulls, Serena gets No. 1
In other tennis action from Wednesday, Dinara Safina withdrew from WTA Sony Ericsson Championships because of a back injury, handing the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.
Safina said the bone structure in her lower back is "starting to fracture" and that the injury has been bothering her for three months. She said she may not be ready for the Australian Open in January.
Safina regained the top ranking this week, but her margin over Williams is so slim that the player who performed best in Doha was guaranteed to end the year as No. 1.
Williams won her first match Tuesday and then beat her sister Venus later Wednesday 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4), in a super-tight match between the siblings.
Doha is the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world.
The tournament features a round-robin stage with four players in each group, before the semifinals.
Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki saved a match point in the final set and beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Each group stage win is worth $100,000, with the eventual winner taking home up to $1.55 million.
AP contributed to this report