Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich advanced to the semifinals of the Lyon Grand Prix in France on Wednesday with a three-set win over James Blake and Jan Hernych.
The two-time defending doubles champs at the tournament overcame the American/Czech duo 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to keep their hopes of snatching one of the final spots to the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai next month. Ram and Erlich are currently ninth in the ATP Doubles Race standings and must continue to do well in Lyon and next week at the Paris Masters to attain one of the top seven spots. The eighth spot at the Masters Cup has been awarded to Wimbledon champs Wesley Moodie of South Africa and Australian Stephen Huss.
The second seeded Israelis will next face the winner of the quarterfinal match pitting Spain's Tommy Robredo and Italy's Davide Sanguinetti against the South African/Dutch duo of Jeff Coetzee and Rogier Wassen.
Late on Wednesday, the top seeds, Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, were scheduled to play countrymen Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut in a first-round encounter. Llodra and Santoro lead Ram and Erlich in the Doubles Race by 34 points, meaning that an early defeat would boost the Israelis chances of overtaking them.