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Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich failed to progress past the round-robin stage of the Masters Cup for a second straight year, losing on Thursday 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 to Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi.
The Israelis, who only qualified for the tournament after the world's No. 1 duo of Bob and Mike Bryan pulled out through injury, could have advanced to the semifinals had they won their match in Shanghai and Leander Paes and Martin Damm defeated Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett.
Ram and Erlich, however, didn't give themselves a chance after they couldn't get the better of Bjorkman and Mirnyi, who had lost their first two matches of the tournament in straight sets.
Despite being broken in the fourth game of the match (3-1), Ram and Erlich quickly tied the score, breaking back in the fifth game and then holding serve. But a second break for Bjorkman and Mirnyi at a crucial time clinched the first set for the Swedish/Belarusian duo. Ram put a simple volley into the net at set point in the 10th game and gifted Bjorkman and Mirnyi the first set.
After both teams held serve comfortably in the first six games of the second set, Ram and Erlich recorded an important break when Bjorkman hit a double fault on break point in the seventh game. Erlich's lucky winner gave the duo a 5-3 lead and the Israelis soon tied the match following Mirnyi's double fault in the ninth game.
Ram's smash winner gave the team an encouraging start to the match tiebreaker, but six straight points for Bjorkman and Mirnyi all but ended the encounter. The Israelis failed to mount any sort of comeback and Bjorkman's winner at the net on the duo's third match point sent the Israelis out of the tournament.
Hanley and Ullyett celebrated their semifinal berth with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Damm and Leander Paes in Thursday's second doubles match.
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