Ram and Erlich perfect at Pilot Pen

Israelis beat Polish team in men's doubles final, continuing their habit of winning titles just before a Grand Slam.

erlich and ram 298.88 (photo credit: Getty Images/Pilot Pen Tennis)
erlich and ram 298.88
(photo credit: Getty Images/Pilot Pen Tennis)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich won their third title of the year on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, in the men's doubles final of the $675,000 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, Connecticut. The Israelis, who won titles at Adelaide in January before the Australian Open and at Nottingham in June prior to Wimbledon, continued their habit of winning titles just before a Grand Slam and will be feeling confident ahead of the US Open, which begins this week in Flushing Meadows. "We're playing well at the moment, coming into the US Open with a lot of confidence," Ram said after the match. "Hopefully, we can do some damage there." Ram and Erlich hit the ground running at the start of the match and took an early 3-0 lead. The Israelis held their serves and completed a 6-3 first set win. Both teams held their service games at the start of the second set and after six games the score was tied at 3-3. The seventh game proved to be crucial with Ram and Erlich breaking the Poles' serve for the first time in the set to take a 4-3 lead. The Israelis held their serve again and broke Fyrstenberg and Matkowski to put the match away. "We started pretty strong. I think the first break, in the second game of the match, made our job a lot easier," Erlich commented following the match. "Then we started to feel confident on the court, and we controlled the whole match. Starting well allowed us to play much more freely." Ram and Erlich reached the final after defeating fourthseeded Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3 late on Thursday. The Israelis got an amazing 87 percent of their first serves in and never allowed the Austrians to get ahead in the match. Ram and Erlich broke Knowle and Melzer twice at the beginning of the first set and took a 4-2 lead. The Austrians managed to close the gap and break their opponents' serve once, but that wasn't enough and Ram and Erlich held on to win the set. The second set was once again controlled by the Israelis, who surged ahead just at the right time. Henin-Hardenne wins after Davenport retires Lindsay Davenport began Saturday seeking to defend her Pilot Pen title. She ended it hoping she'll be able to play in the US Open. Davenport retired from the Pilot Pen championship with an injured right shoulder, allowing Justine Henin-Hardenne to take the title. "Rest is going to help no matter what. Of course, with the US Open less than 48 hours from beginning, this is not where I want to be," Davenport said. "I certainly can't play if it's like it was today." Both Davenport and Henin-Hardenne entered New Haven after long layoffs because of injuries and it was the 24-year-old Belgian that picked up the momentum heading into the U.S Open. She did not lose a set in New Haven in reaching her eighth final in 12 events this season. Davenport got the match experience she was looking for - she played five in five days - but has to contend with pain in her serving shoulder just before the Open. She's hopeful she'll be able to play. Okun survives US Open qualifying Noam Okun (257) continued his recent good form on Friday and booked his place in the US Open first round for the second straight year. The Israeli defeated Denis Gremelmayr (97) of Germany 6-3, 6-3 in the third and final qualifying round of the year's last Grand Slam. Okun got two breaks in the first set and one in the second, easing his way to victory thanks to his serves. The Israeli, who has only advanced once past the first round of a Grand Slam, can do so again when he faces Potito Starace (99) of Italy in his first round match. AP contributed to this report.