Ram and Erlich find first victory of the year

Duo advances to second round of Australian Open after defeating Johansson and Nieminen.

ram ehrlich 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
ram ehrlich 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich won their first match of 2007 on Thursday afternoon and advanced to the second round of the Australian Open after defeating Thomas Johansson of Sweden and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, in a match that lasted just over two hours. The Israelis, who are seeded seventh in the tournament, had to toil for the victory after squandering a 5-1 lead in the third set and allowing their opponents to reach three break points in the 11th game of the set. Ram and Erlich, who lost in the first round of their first two tournaments of the year, eventually won the 11th game and took a 6-5 lead before wrapping up the three set victory in the subsequent game. The Israelis will be back in action on Friday morning when they face Briton James Auckland and Australian Stephen Huss for a place in the third round. After being broken in the first game of Thursday's match, Ram and Erlich took six of the next seven games and won the first set with ease. The second set seemed to be more of the same, with the Israelis breaking the Scandinavian duo in the fourth game of the set to grab a 3-1 lead. However, three breaks of serve for Johansson and Nieminen turned the set around and the duo tied the match. Ram and Erlich stormed to a 5-1 lead at the start of the third set and victory for the Israelis seemed inevitable. But the Scandinavians had no intention of rolling over and three breaks of serve for the duo tied the set at 5-5. Johansson and Nieminen had a golden opportunity to break their opponents' serve once more in the 11th game of the set, but they failed to take advantage of three break points and the Israelis took the game. Ram and Erlich made no mistakes in the following game and completed the win on their second match point. Pe'er knocked out of doubles Shahar Pe'er and French partner Marion Bartoli lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to Italians Tathiana Garbin and Roberta Vinci in the first round of the doubles. The Israeli/French duo, which was seeded 11th, failed to reproduce its form from last season and was outplayed by its opponents. Pe'er (17) will resume her play in the singles on Friday morning when she faces Tatiana Golovin (23) of France in the third round.