Cinderella Sela roars into fourth round; Djokovic up next

Israel's top player defeats Spain's Tommy Robredo; to face world #4 Djokovic in the next round.

dudi sela wimbledon 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
dudi sela wimbledon 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Dudi Sela's magical run at Wimbledon shows no signs of slowing after he advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career on Friday, setting up a meeting with world number 4 Novak Djokovic. The 24-year-old recorded an outstanding 7-6 (8), 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 victory over world No. 15 Tommy Robredo, hitting 57 winners on his way to becoming the first Israeli man to reach the last 16 at the All England Club since Amos Mansdorf in 1989. "It's very special for me to reach the fourth round," said Sela, who had previously never advanced past the first round at Wimbledon. "For a long time people back home were waiting for a man to be in the fourth round or in the quarterfinals. I'm very happy that I'm in the fourth round." As impressive as his victory over Robredo was, Sela knows facing Djokovic on Monday is a different proposition altogether. "Djokovic is different player. He's No. 4 in the world. He's won a Grand Slam. He's a very experienced player," Sela noted. "But I'm going to give my best, play hopefully the same tennis as I played until now, until this round, and that's it." Sela credited Mansdorf for giving him tips ahead of what has proven to be the biggest tournament of his life. "Last week Mansdorf gave me a lot of tips," Sela said. "Take the ball early, come in more. I think I came in to the net a lot, and that's the key to the win." Sela's net play was indeed superb and his good start to the match was just as crucial. He recorded the first break of the match in the fifth game, but the Spaniard tied the score with a break in the eighth game and the set eventually had to be decided in a tiebreak. Robredo seemed to have the upper hand in the breaker and twice came within a point of claiming a set. However, Sela raised his level of play when it counted most and after saving the two set points, clinched the breaker with an excellent point. Timing is everything in life, and Sela broke at the perfect time in the second set, winning the 12th game on Robredo's serve to open a significant lead. However, the Spaniard had no intention of giving up without a fight, and after he broke in the first game of the fourth set raced to a 6-2 victory. The match seemed destined to go into a fifth and decisive set when Robredo was serving for the fourth set with a 5-4 lead. However, Sela broke the Spaniard's serve and never looked back, taking the last three games to improve on his previous best Grand Slam achievement, a third round run at the Australian Open earlier this year. "In the first two sets I played well from the baseline as well as the net," Sela said. "In the fourth set I said to myself that I have to play much more aggressive and try to come in and shorten the points, and I think that's why I won." Sela also gave credit to the support he received from the crowd, which was decidedly pro-Israeli right from the very start of the match. "It's nice to see a lot of Israelis, a lot of Jews, supporting me," Sela said. "I like to play when there is a lot of support. I play much better when there is a lot of people." Friday was a good day all-around for Israelis at Wimbledon, with Andy Ram and Max Mirnyi, who are seeded seventh in the doubles tournament, advancing to the third round with a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana. However, Israel's representatives didn't fare as well on Saturday. Shahar Pe'er and Gisela Dulko were knocked out in the second round of the women's doubles tournament, losing 6-4, 6-1 to China's Zi Yan and Jie Zheng. Ram and Anna Chakvetadze followed suit, falling in the first round of the mixed doubles with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 defeat to Igor Andreev and Maria Kirilenko.