Tennis: Ram joins Pe'er and Sela out of Indian Wells

No shame for Israelis despite lopsided mid-round defeats; Baghdatis shocks Federer.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
March 18, 2010 09:09
3 minute read.
Dudi Sela.

Dudi Sela.. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Andy Ram and doubles partner Michal Llodra were knocked out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Wednesday night.

The duo lost 6-2, 6-4 to Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the quarterfinal stage.

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It came a day after Shahar Pe'er and Dudi Sela were sent packing from the California competition in just over two hours, a sour ending to what was overall a positive tournament.

Pe'er, ranked number 20 in the world, lasted just 58 minutes against world No. 9 Jelena Jankovic, losing 6-2, 6-2 in the fourth round of the women's event. Sela (72), who played ahead of Pe'er on Stadium 3, didn't really do any better, falling 6-3, 6-0 to Tommy Robredo (23) in the third round after one hour and eight minutes.

Despite the one-sided defeats, Pe'er and Sela will be pleased with their week in California.

Pe'er defeated 12th ranked Flavia Pennetta in the third round, her fourth victory of the year over a top 20 player, a feat she achieved just once throughout 2009.

Sela may have lost to Robredo after beating the Spaniard in all three of their previous meetings, but when considering the Israeli entered the tournament on the back of five straight defeats it should come as no surprise that he is more than happy with his performance in Indian Wells. Sela beat world No. 17 Radek Stepanek in the second round, his first win over a top-20 player in nearly nine months.

Both Pe'er and Sela will play at the massive $4.5 million Sony Ericsson Open in Miami next week.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer suffered a shock exit in the third round on Tuesday night.

For everything Federer did right, the world's top-ranked player did something wrong. Eventually, his errant shotmaking did him in.

Marcos Baghdatis upset Federer 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4), beating the Swiss for the first time in seven meetings.

A joyous Baghdatis bent down and kissed the court, having closed out the taut contest in which their booming serves kept rallies brief and Federer wasted three match points.

"It's the best win of my career," he said. "I lost a lot of matches against those top guys, and it's a relief to win. It's a great moment for me."

Federer hadn't lost when holding a match point since 2006 in Rome.

"Roger was a bit too aggressive. He was missing a lot of balls," Baghdatis said. "I was more calm than him."

Federer lost for just the second time in 13 matches this year in his first tournament since winning his 16th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

He withdrew last month in Dubai because of a lung infection.

"It's a very fine line. That's why I don't like to beat myself up too much after a match like that," he said. "You play good most of the time and then you don't play so well when you really have to."

Federer held his third match point on Baghdatis' serve in the 12th game, but he netted a backhand for deuce. Baghdatis went up and then forced the tiebreaker when Federer miss-hit a backhand return that sailed high in the air beyond the baseline.

"I just couldn't find the way to win," he said. "I was maybe one shot away, maybe wrong choices at the wrong time, maybe playing too passively."

Federer played some loose points in the tiebreak, committing seven errors that included netting a forehand volley to set up Baghdatis' first match point, which he won when Federer's backhand return sailed long.

"I should never be in a breaker, so why analyze the breaker?" said Federer, a three-time champion in Indian Wells.

Baghdatis beat the No. 1-ranked player for the first time in his career; his best previous win came against Andy Roddick, ranked third at the time.

Injuries nagged Baghdatis through much of 2008, then he worked his way back to the top 50 last year through low-level Challenger tournaments in places like Pakistan.

"I said to myself that the chance would come, and when it comes, I'll take it; that's what I did," he said. "Through the experience of losing to (Novak) Djokovic in Dubai, having chances and not taking them, remembering all the moments that I had so many chances against these players and I didn't take them, today I took it. So I'm very, very happy."


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