Comment: Ram and Erlich's inexplicable failure at the majors
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
If Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich fail to reach the last eight of Wimbledon this year they may never play at the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam tournament ever again.
That may sound a little harsh, but consider this. Since reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon four years ago, Ram and Erlich have only once advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam event.
The Israelis may be a fixture among the world's top 10 doubles pairs in the last two years, but success in the events that really matter has - for some reason - eluded them.
The duo has fallen in the early rounds of the Grand Slams again and again in recent years, always losing to lower ranked players. Unlike Shahar Pe'er, who seems to always defeat inferior players, but loses to superior ones, Ram and Erlich fail time and again against opponents they should beat.
The duo's achievements in recent years easily places them among not only the country's best ever tennis players, but alongside Israel's greatest ever athletes.
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that for all their success Ram and Erlich seem to choke when it really counts.
Time is not on the pair's side. With Erlich already celebrating his 30th birthday a couple of months ago, the duo probably has another year, possibly two, at the top of the tennis world.
To make matters even more complicated for the Israelis, the draw at Wimbledon has done them no favors. Ram and Erlich should have no trouble defeating qualifiers Alex Kuznetsov and Mischa Zverev in the first round, but advancing to the last 16 will be far more complicated.
In the second round they're set to face the in-form pairing of Jamie Murray and Eric Butorac.
Murray and Butorac claimed the Nottingham Open title on Saturday, a title won in 2005 and 2006 by Ram and Erlich, and will be formidable opponents should they meet the Israelis.
It will not be getting any easier for the seventh seeded Israelis in the third round, with French Open finalists and ninth seeded Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner the likely opponents. And should Ram and Erlich finally advance to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for just the second time in 15 attempts and the first since the US Open in 2005, they will almost inevitably meet the defending champions and the world's top doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.
The next two weeks are by no means going to be a walk in the park for the Israelis, but they can simply not afford another failure.
Another disappointment on the pair's favorite grass courts at the All England Club could sadly mark the beginning of the end for the greatest doubles team to ever represent Israel.
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