Tennis star Andy Ram is having a ball

It's been nearly a week since Andy Ram won the second grand slam title of his career, but the Israeli tennis star is still taking it all in.

By JEREMY LAST
June 14, 2007 07:49
3 minute read.
Tennis star Andy Ram is having a ball

andy ram 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

It's been nearly a week since Andy Ram won the second grand slam title of his career, but the Israeli tennis star is still taking it all in. Ram, 27, took the mixed-doubles title at the French Open last week with Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy. "It's unbelievable to think that a little kid from Jerusalem can reach the top of world tennis," Ram told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "It's a great feeling and I'm just getting used to it." Ram is in Israel for a brief visit before heading off to England on Friday to prepare for the pre-Wimbledon Nottingham Open, a tournament where he has won the doubles competition with partner Yoni Erlich for the last two years. Ram said he was never sure the French Open triumph would happen. The doubles specialist won his first Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon last year in mixed doubles with Russian Vera Zvonareva. But Zvonareva was forced to pull out of Roland Garros with a wrist injury. With a few weeks to go to the Paris tournament, Ram still didn't have a mixed-doubles partner. But Dechy soon contacted him and he was back on course. "Nathalie and Vera are partners in women's doubles, so they talked to each other and she sent me an SMS a few weeks before the tournament asking if I would like to play with her. I immediately said OK," he said. Although they felt they were playing well together, Ram said the win was still a surprise for him. "You never expect that much," he said. "You know you can do it, but when it happens it feels like it comes out of nowhere. It was really exciting. At the moment I can say I have a Roland Garros title and Roger Federer, the greatest player, doesn't have one." With Zvonareva still injured, Ram and Dechy plan to team up again at Wimbledon later this month. "Zvonareva is one of the most talented players on tour and very serious on the court," Ram said. "Nathalie is much more calm and smiling. I enjoy playing with both of them." It was an "amazing experience" playing alongside a French national at the Paris tournament, he said. While Ram has achieved success in mixed doubles, his men's doubles season with Erlich hasn't been going as well as expected. The pair lost in both the Australian Open and French Open to Mahesh Bhupathi and Radek Stepanek in the third round. "A lot of people are saying it has not been the best season for us," Ram said. "But we are still number seven in the world and we will qualify for the masters. We have high expectations to at least get to the final of every tournament we enter." "Our goal is to win Grand Slams and be number one in the world, so of course we are aiming to win Wimbledon," he added. "It won't be easy to reach the top - you don't go from number seven to number one immediately. But it is something we want and believe we can achieve." Although Ram is only in Israel for a few days, he spent some time on Wednesday with young Israeli tennis players at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center. He tried to inspire them by speaking about his experiences as an Israeli on the professional tennis tour. "It's something I love to do," he said. Ram has been one of the key players on Israel's Davis Cup team, which beat Italy in April to advance to the World Group playoff for the first time in nine years. In September, Israel hosts Chile. Ram, who was born in Uruguay and speaks fluent Spanish, said he is extremely excited by the prospect of the tie, where he will face his good friends Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu. "It is the first time I have played in this stage of Davis Cup," Ram said. "The Chileans are a better ranked team, but with our home support I think we can take it."


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