Ram and Erlich beat world's #1 duo

Israeli duo surprises Bryan brothers at start of Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Ram erlich 298 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ram erlich 298 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich recorded one of the biggest wins in their careers on Sunday afternoon, defeating the world's top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1, in their first round-robin match at the ATP Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. The Israelis, who qualified for the season finale in China by finishing in seventh place in the ATP Doubles Race, had lost both of their previous meetings with the twin brothers this year, but on Sunday made it clear that they have the firepower to compete at the highest level. Ram and Erlich took the tight first set after a tiebreaker and, after being outplayed in the second set, stepped up their game in the decisive set. The Israelis reeled off five games in a row to complete the victory. "I think this is an excellent start for us," Erlich said after the match. "The match was played at a very high level. We dictated the play for most of the match, but we lost our composure slightly in the second set. In the third set we regained our concentration and were at our best." Ram and Erlich will play their second match of the round-robin on Tuesday against the world's fourth-ranked team of Australian Paul Hanley and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett. Hanley and Ullyett recorded a three-set win on Sunday over the sixth-ranked pair of Czech Martin Damm and Indian Leander Paes. A win for Ram and Erlich over the Australian/Zimbabwean duo on Tuesday could prove to be enough to secure a top-two finish in the group and a semifinal birth. The Bryans began Sunday's match with a love game and after both teams failed to create a break point in the first 12 games of the match, the set went into a tiebreaker. After struggling against the Americans' serve for the entire first set, Ram and Erlich won every single point on the Bryans' serve in the breaker and captured the first set. The Americans got the first break of the match in the third game of the second set and won the next three games to take a commanding 5-1 lead. They closed out the set in the eighth game after saving a break point and tied the match at a set a piece. After splitting the first two games of the third set, Ram and Erlich finally got their first break of the match in the fourth game of the set and wrapped up the victory with their first match point in the seventh game. "I don't think we played badly today, but I have to give them a lot of credit, they deserved to win it today," Bob Bryan said after the match. "We played a pretty solid second set and we thought we had it in control, but they came out hot in the third and got that one break and it kind of fell apart for us." The Israelis admitted before the tournament that they are not content with just qualifying for the prestigious event and even after their huge win on Sunday, remain focused on the big picture. "I think we sent a message to all the other teams today by beating the best duo in the world," Erlich commented. "We may have got off to the best possible start today, but we must continue doing well so this victory doesn't turn out to be meaningless."