Sela, Weintraub lone locals left in Ra’anana

Bar, Cukierman knocked out of Israel Open; Djokovic advances to Miami quarterfinals

Israeli tennis player Amir Weintraub (photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Israeli tennis player Amir Weintraub
The Israeli favorites advanced to the second round of the Israel Open ATP Challenger Tour tournament in Ra’anana on Wednesday, but Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub are the lone locals left in the event.
Fresh off claiming his 20th career title on the Challenger circuit in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday, Sela, ranked No. 84 in the world, needed just 50 minutes to overcome countryman Tal Goldengoren (815) 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, with the latter having received a wild-card berth to the event.
Sela next faces Slovenian Blaz Rola (162).
Amir Weintraub (197) had a far tougher time against Davis Cup teammate Edan Leshem (570), fighting back from a set down to register a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory after one hour and 38 minutes.
Weintraub, who had lost in the first round in his previous three tournaments and last won on the Challenger circuit back in January, will play Marsel Ilhan (137) in the second round after the Turk defeated Yannick Jankovits 7-6, 6-3.
Israel’s Dekel Bar (762) was sent packing in the first round on Wednesday, losing 6-0, 7-5 to Thomas Fabbiano. Fellow Israeli wildcard Daniel Cukierman was knocked out by No. 1 seed Evgeny Donskoy on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round of the Miami Open in Florida on Tuesday.
Djokovic needed four match points before finally prevailing against the 22-year-old, whose thunderous forehands frequently had the Serb on the back foot.
Thiem could not capitalize on his chances, however, and in the end Djokovic’s consistency proved the difference and he advanced after one hour and 50 minutes.
“I stayed tough when it was most needed,” Djokovic told the ATP Tour website.
“In the important moments I just tried to make him play, make him run.
“He has very powerful strokes from the back of the court, so he either makes some really amazing shots, down the line mostly, and some great inside out forehands, or he makes a mistake.
“It was a straight-set win, but far from easy.”
Up next for Djokovic, who had nine double faults, his most in a three-set match since 2010, is a quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych after the Czech beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a contest that stretched nearly two hours and 30 minutes in blistering heat.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori beat Roberto Bautista 6-2, 6-4 to set up a meeting with France’s Gael Monfils, who got past Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3.
Bulgarian Dimitrov had knocked out world No. 2 Andy Murray in the previous round.
Another quarterfinal pits Canadian 12th seed Milos Raonic against Australian 24th seed Nick Kyrgios.
Another high seed fell at the women’s event in Miami as No. 5 Simona Halep was sent packing by Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals in Florida on Tuesday.
Romanian Halep appeared well-placed for victory when she took the first set.
It was only the second set Bacsinszky had dropped during the tournament, and the 19th-seeded Swiss made sure it would be her last of the day as she prevailed in a match that stretched nearly two hours and 30 minutes.
Halep’s exit left the event with only one of the top 12 women’s seeds – No. 2 Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion.
Bacsinszky will meet Russian Sevtlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals after the 15th seed beat compatriot Ekaterina Makarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3.
Kuznetsova shocked world No. 1 Serena Williams in straight sets a day earlier, and is playing past the third round of a tournament for the first time since January.
Bacsinszky has taken down some big names en route to the semifinal, disposing of third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and 16th seed Ana Ivanovic in previous rounds.
Reuters contributed to this report.