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ram ehrlich 224.88.(Photo by: AP)
Davis Cup: Ram, Erlich win doubles to give Israel 2-1 lead
Sela (105) faces Fernando Gonzalez (6) in Sunday's first singles match at Ramat Hasharon, with Okun (186) playing Massu (72) immediately afterwards.
Israel's Davis Cup team needs to win one of Sunday's two singles matches to advance to the World Group for the first time in 13 years. Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich defeated Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 in a five hour thriller on Friday, that ended just an hour before the start of Yom Kippur. "Ram and Erlich's win is massive. This is a win of historical proportions," Israel captain Eyal Ran said on Friday. "All we need is one point and we're in an excellent position. We wanted to enter the last day in front and we hope Dudi Sela or Noam Okun can complete the job." Sela (105) faces Fernando Gonzalez (6) in Sunday's first singles match at Ramat Hasharon, with Okun (186) playing Massu (72) immediately afterwards. Gonzalez and Massu got off to a flying start in Friday's doubles match, breaking twice and claiming four games in a row, on their way to a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes. Ram and Erlich held serve to love in the fifth game of the set, but it was too little too late, and the Chileans clinched the first set. Ram and Erlich regained their form at the start of the second set and claimed their first break of the match in the fourth game. A Ram smash in the following game gave the team a 4-1 lead, with the duo saving a break point. Gonzalez and Massu had no intention of going away quietly and tied the score (4-4) after breaking in the seventh game and holding serve in the subsequent game. The duo held serve comfortably for the remainder of the set and a tiebreak was needed to determine the winner. Ram and Erlich's superb play in the breaker gave the Chileans no chance and the Israelis tied the match. Ram and Erlich maintained their momentum at the start of the third set and broke in the fifth game, after Massu sent his forehand long. A second break in the seventh game gave the Israelis an unassailable lead, which they quickly translated into a 6-2 win. Gonzalez and Massu lifted their play at the beginning of the fourth set and raced to a 3-0 lead. Ram and Erlich failed to break the Chileans in the following games and the match would have to be decided with a fifth set. Four straight points for the Israelis in the second game of the decisive set gave the duo a 2-0 advantage, but Gonzalez and Massu broke back immediately and tied the score at 2-2. Ram and Erlich had a superb chance to edge ahead in the eighth game, but the duo squandered three break points, allowing the Chileans to tie the score at 4-4. Each team held its serve with relative ease in the following games, with no duo managing to reach a break point until the 18th game of the set. Two outstanding points by Ram and Erlich at 30-30 in the 18th game wrapped up the win for the Israelis, to the delight of the fans at Ramat Hasharon. "Nicolas and Fernando played an excellent match against one of the best doubles team's in the world," Chile captain Hans Gildemeister said. "We still have a chance to clinch the tie. A win for Fernando against Dudi in the first match on Sunday and the tie will have to be decided in the fifth match, in which anything can happen." Ram said: "This is a huge win. I can't even comprehend what just happened. The fans were amazing and pushed us to the win. I hope this victory will become part of a bigger victory and that on Sunday we will celebrate our place in the World Group." Tzipi Obziler (112) was not as successful as her male counterparts on Friday, losing to Anne Keothavong (144) 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the $175,000 Sunfeast Open in Calcutta, India.
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