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(photo credit: EPA)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich are only one win away from claiming the biggest title of their career after defeating Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California, on Friday.
The Israelis, who are seeded sixth at the $3.285 million tournament, continued their recent resurgence in Friday's semis, claiming their sixth straight-set victory in their last two tournaments. The duo will play in their second consecutive ATP tour final, after losing to the Bryan brothers in the title match at Las Vegas two weeks ago.
"We've been playing well for a while and we are finally getting the appropriate results," Ram said. "We've been quietly working on our game and our goal after our mediocre start to the season is to improve our ranking. I hope we finish off the job and win the final."
Ram and Erlich, who will be pursuing their first ATP Masters Series shield and their 10th team title, face the fifth-seeded duo of Czech Martin Damm and Indian Leander Paes in the final on Sunday. Damm and Paes defeated the Israelis in their only previous meeting at the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup in China.
The Czech/Indian duo, who won the US Open last year in their first season as a team, booked a spot in their third final of 2007 at Indian Wells after defeating Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi 6-2, 6-7(5), 12-10, in Friday's other semifinal.
After defeating Jarko Nieminen of Finland and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden 7-6(5), 6-4, in Thursday's quarterfinals, Ram and Erlich were confident at the start of their semi and won the first three games.
The pair, who will climb back into the top 10 of the doubles race after their success at Indian Wells, never looked back. After wrapping up the first set in the eighth game, they broke their opponents' serve in the 12th game of the second set to clinch the match.
Shahar Pe'er's participation at Indian Wells ended on Thursday, after the Israeli and partner Vania King lost their doubles quarterfinal 6-0, 6-2, to the world's best doubles team of Australian Samantha Stosur and American Lisa Raymond.
Pe'er will return to action this week at the $3.45 million Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.