Dudi Sela 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel's representatives in the Australian Open will all have to record upsets if they are to advance past the first round following Friday's draw in Melbourne.
Dudi Sela, who is ranked at No. 67 in the world, was drawn to face Jarko Nieminen (39) in the first round of the men's singles. Nieminen has beaten Sela in two of their three meetings to date, including in their most recent contest in the Helsinki Challenger tournament in November 2012. However, the Israeli, who has lost in the first round in Melbourne in each of the past four years, did have the upper hand when they last met on the ATP Tour in the last 16 in Delray Beach, Florida almost two years ago.
"Any opponent I would have faced would have been tough," said Sela. "I hope I can play well. It is supposed to be around 38 degrees Celsius in the next few days so I will need to be mentally ready for that."
Shahar Pe'er (77) will face former doubles partner Monica Niculescu (60) in the opening round of the women's singles. Pe'er, who has reached at least the second round in her past four visits to Melbourne, defeated the Romanian in their only previous clash, but that was back in 2009.
Julia Glushko (89) was handed what looks to be the toughest draw among the Israelis after being paired with Lucie Safarova (27). Glushko has struggled with a knee injury in recent weeks, but is expected to be fit to make her Australian Open main draw debut this week.
The year's first Grand Slam event will get underway on Monday.
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will discover the identity of their opponents in the first round of the doubles tournament later this week.
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