Australian Open: Sela stays positive after 3rd round loss

Israeli star takes a set off Tsonga but can't get past last year's finalist.

dudi sela australian open 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
dudi sela australian open 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
Despite suffering a third round defeat to world number seven Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Saturday, Dudi Sela said he's very pleased with his overall performance at the Australian Open. Sela, who lost 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 1-6 to the Frenchman, became the first Israeli man to play in a third round of a singles Grand Slam tournament since Amos Mansdorf did so in Wimbledon in 1994. "I take a lot of confidence from this tournament," Sela said. "I beat two players in the top 40 in the world. I played three matches in the qualifiers and in the last round "I saved five match points. So this gives me a lot of confidence. I learned a lot from this week. I hope to continue in the same way and play solid every week." Sela was broken by Tsonga in the first game of the match, but broke back immediately and took a 2-1 advantage. The Israeli's lead would be short-lived, however, with last year's Australian Open runner-up quickly regaining the advantage and wrapping up the set in 41 minutes. Tsonga dominated the second set and broke Sela three times on his way to a two-set lead. Just when it seemed as though the Frenchman was on his way to a straight sets victory, Sela turned on the style in the third set and clinched it in just over half-an-hour after taking five consecutive games. In the fourth set, however, Tsonga showed exactly why he's a top-10 player and why he reached the final last year, blasting 13 winners on his way to the fourth round. "I didn't start so well. I was very nervous," Sela said. "He played with a lot of power and my shots were very short. In the second set, I had breakpoints, but I didn't take them." Now that Sela is out, Andy Ram is the only remaining Israeli in the tournament. Ram and Nathalie Dechy defeated Renne Stubbs and Frantisek Cermak 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the mixed doubles tournament on Saturday. On Friday, Ram's defense of his Australian Open doubles title ended in disappointing fashion in the second round. Ram and Max Mirnyi, who were seeded ninth in the men's doubles tournament, lost 2-6, 4-6 to Spain's Davis Cup winning doubles team of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. Shahar Pe'er ended her participation in this year's Australian Open on Friday, losing in the first round of the mixed doubles tournament. Pe'er and Swede Robert Lindstedt were beaten 6-7 (0), 5-7 by Dominika Cibulkova and Jurgen Melzer, meaning the Israeli was knocked out in the first round of the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events. Pe'er will return to Israel in the coming days and will begin training with her Fed Cup teammates ahead of the World Group II tie at Ukraine on February 7-8.