Ram & Erlich hoist trophy in Belgrade

Shahar Pe’er (54) advances to the second round of the Madrid Open.

andy ram yoni erlich 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
andy ram yoni erlich 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich won their 15th career title together and their first in 2012 with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 win over Martin Emmrich and Andreas Siljestrom in the final of the Serbia Open in Belgrade on Sunday.
The Israeli duo hadn’t won a title since finishing in the winners’ circle at the Winston- Salem Open last August, losing in their only final of this year until Sunday in the Chennai Open in India in January.
The Israelis looked to be in trouble after dropping the first set on Sunday, but broke twice in the second set to tie the match and clinched their first-ever title on clay after winning seven of eight service points in the deciding Match Tie-break.
“We are very happy at claiming our first title of the year, and first ever on clay after some close calls,” Erlich said.
“We played really good tennis and this is a direct continuation to our form all year, which has been excellent.
“I believe that with a lot of patience we will get back to where we deserve to be because we have been playing at a high level for a long time.”
Sunday’s win is not only good news for the Israelis ahead of the start of the French Open at the end of this month, but it is also a significant step for the duo on its way to securing its place at this summer’s London Olympics.
Ram and Erlich entered the week ranked 50th and 48th in the world, respectively, with only 24 teams to automatically qualify for the Olympics as per the rankings on June 11, subject to a maximum of two teams per nation.
Also Sunday, Shahar Pe’er (54) advanced to the second round of the Madrid Open, recording just her second victory of the season over a superiorly ranked player by beating Polona Hercog (37) 6-3, 7-5.
Besides her victory over then No. 13 Jelena Jankovic in Doha in February, Pe’er had registered just a single win over a top-50 player this season before Sunday, beating No. 49 Lucie Hradecka in January.
For once, Pe’er managed to serve consistently well on Sunday, saving all three break points Hercog reached in the one hour and 31 minute match.
Next up for Pe’er is a meeting with Varvara Lepchenko (73), who stunned world No. 11 Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3 in the first round.