Andy and Yoni: A partnership past its peak?

After over two years of playing with other partners, Ram and Erlich hoped to recreate past magic, but nothing has gone according to plan.

andy ram yoni erlich 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
andy ram yoni erlich 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PARIS – This is not how Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich envisioned their reunion.
After more than two years of playing mostly with other partners, Ram and Erlich were expecting to recreate past magic after finally agreeing to get back together on a fulltime basis in 2011, believing that success would be almost inevitable thanks to their special connection.
But so far, nothing has gone according to plan for the Israeli team.
Disappointing defeats seem to be a weekly occurrence, with the duo only reaching one semifinal in 10 tournaments this year, winning more than a single match in just two events.
While the combined forces of Ram and Erlich used to result in a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts, these days neither is playing anywhere near his individual potential.
With Ram turning 31 last month and Erlich recently celebrating his 34th birthday, it is hard not to feel that we have already seen the best of the two.
But don’t tell that to the legendary duo.
They believe that they still have one great chapter left to write in an already outstanding career.
“We are waiting for everything to finally come together,” Ram said.
“Things are going tougher than we expected. We just need to work harder and I believe we will regain our rightful place among the world’s top-10. But at the moment, there is a massive gap between where we are and the place we want to be.”
Erlich echoed his partner’s sentiment.
“We haven’t played in two years and that hurts our coordination and connection. We need to reconnect and once more find our style,” he said.
“I’m very optimistic for the rest of the year and for next year as well. Next year is an Olympic year and we are looking forward to that. I believe in us. We both proved last year that we can still play well with other partners and now we just have to show that form while playing with each other.”
The biggest problem for Ram (ranked 28 in doubles in the world) and Erlich (49) is that their deteriorating ranking means that they are finding it more and more difficult to qualify for the main draw of the ATP Tour’s big events, missing out recently on the Masters tournaments at Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome.
Their first-round exit at the French Open complicates matters even further and if the next few months don’t go as planned, the future of Israel’s best-ever doubles team could be in jeopardy.
Ram, however, remains as positive as ever, and is even hoping that Thursday’s lowpoint in Paris will prove to be the turning point of what has so far been an underwhelming comeback.
“This is a tough time for us because we are used to being at the top and at the moment we keep getting pushed back,” he said. “I can’t remember such a low point since we began playing together. We keep falling back in the rankings and soon we won’t be able to play together in tournaments.
“We are facing some very critical months and we need to rebuild ourselves. It took us two years to get back together after Yoni’s injury and we thought we could just come back to the tour and everything would fall into place.
But every match is a battle and it isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. Maybe the hit we took here in Paris will shake us up and help us finally get back on track.”