French Open Tennis: Terrible day for Israeli players in Paris

Sharapova joins Safina, Ivanovic, Nadal and Murray in 3rd round; Safin falls.

dudi sela artistic 248.88a (photo credit: )
dudi sela artistic 248.88a
(photo credit: )
Dudi Sela crashed out of the French Open on Wednesday, taking a mere four games in his second round defeat to world No. 13 Marin Cilic. Meanwhile, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, playing separately in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in years, were also knocked out on Wednesday, both losing in the first round of the doubles tournament in Paris. Sela (55 in the world) was outplayed by the up-and-coming Croatian, losing 6-0, 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 23 minutes. The 24-year-old struggled desperately on Cilic's serve, winning only six of 40 points when the Croatian got his first serve in. "I played poorly and I made many mistakes. You can't beat Cilic like that," Sela said. "I'm disappointed because I had a reasonable draw, but today nothing went my way and I was humbled." Also Wednesday, Yoni Erlich lost in his first Grand Slam match since returning from a nine-month injury layoff. Erlich and Indian partner Rohan Bopanna were knocked out in the first round of the doubles event, falling 6-4 ,7-6 (10) to Sergio Roitman and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. "It was very short and disappointing, but I'm back playing and that's important as well," Erlich said. "I hoped to do better, but you can't expect to reach the semifinals in your first Grand Slam tournament after nine months out." Andy Ram and Max Mirnyi, who were seeded at No. 7 for the event, also suffered a disappointing early exit, losing 7-6 (6), 6-3 to Dick Norman and Wesley Moodie. In other action on Wednesday, Maria Sharapova struggled again in her Grand Slam tournament comeback at the French Open, needing three sets and a few extra games to reach the third round with a 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 victory over 11th-seeded Nadia Petrova on Wednesday. On the men's side, four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal and third-seeded Andy Murray advanced to the third round, but two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro each lost in their final French Open. Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion who has slipped to No. 102 in the rankings because of her injury layoff, is making her first Grand Slam appearance in almost a year after missing both the US Open and the Australian Open because of her shoulder injury. She had surgery in October. Safina easily beat 18-year-old Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko 6-1, 6-1, and Ivanovic defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-1, 6-2. Safina took a 5-0 lead to open the match, stretching her streak to 17 straight games after winning 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. Ivanovic looked more comfortable on court after struggling in her opening match. The eighth-seeded Serb broke the 32-year-old Tanasugarn twice in the first set and three times in the second. Venus Williams lost the first set to Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5) before play was suspended because of darkness. Nadal, who is trying to become the first player to win five straight French Open titles, stretched his French Open record to 30-0 by beating Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. The top-seeded Spaniard has never lost at Roland Garros, and his 30th straight win on the tournament's red clay gives him the record for most consecutive wins. "So what?" Nadal said of his accomplishment. "I'm happy for the record, but in the end much more happy for the result." Murray defeated Potito Starace of Italy 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. The Briton trailed 5-1 in the third set but broke Starace three straight times to win. Santoro, who has made a record 67 Grand Slam appearances, lost in the first round of this year's French Open - his record-tying 20th - to Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Safin, who has said he will retire after this season, took wild-card entry Josselin Ouanna of France to five sets before falling 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 3-6, 10-8.