Ram, Erlich hope to defend Lyon title

Shimiel and Agranovich win the Israeli juniors championships in the finals held at Hadar Yosef in Tel Aviv.

tennis champion 298 88dh (photo credit: David Hazon)
tennis champion 298 88dh
(photo credit: David Hazon)
Two-time defending doubles champs at the Lyon Grand Prix in France, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, started the tournament on the right foot Monday with a straight-sets win over local wildcards Thierry Ascione and Gilles Simon. The second seeded Israelis, who need a strong showing to retain a shot at qualifying for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai, won 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal match against the winners of Tuesday night's first-round contest pitting American singles specialists Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri against compatriot James Blake and Czech partner Jan Hernych. Ram and Erlich slipped to ninth in the ATP Doubles Race standings released Monday after losing in the first round last week at the Madrid Masters. Only the top seven teams in the race are assured a spot in Shanghai. Wimbledon champs Wesley Moodie of South Africa and Australian Stephen Huss have been assured the eighth and final ticket to the Masters. The Israelis, who have amassed 409 points this year, trail sixth placed Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley of Australia by 39 points and seventh placed Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, the top seeds in Lyon, by 34. The Lyon title is worth 45 points. The Paris Masters next week is the only regular season tournament remaining on the ATP Tour this year following this week's events in Lyon, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Basel, Switzerland. Arthurs and Hanley won their opening-round match at St. Petersburg earlier on Tuesday, while the eighth-place team, Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Australia's Todd Perry (415 points) advanced to the St. Petersburg quarters already on Monday. Shimiel, Agranovich crowned Israeli junior champs Sahar Shimiel and Elana Agranovich won the Israeli juniors (under-18) championships on Tuesday in the finals held at Hadar Yosef in Tel Aviv. In all there were 10 finals played in age groups starting at 10-year-olds through the under-18s. Shimiel defeated Shay Sagie 6-4, 6-4 in the boys' final while Agranovich overcame Julia Glushko 6-3, 6-3. Glushko still finished the day a winner after stopping Doron Muravnik 6-1, 6-7 in the girls' under-16 final. Tomer Hodorov won the boys' equivalent by beating Jonathan Hadash 6-4, 6-2 in the final. Amir Zari defeated Fahoum Fahoum 6-4, 7-6 in the boys' u-14 and Angelika Aliev won that girls' age group with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Alexis Markov. In the under-12 finals, Asik Karatzev beat Omri Meshorar 6-4, 6-3 in the boys and Mor Noy beat Rona Levian 6-1, 6-1 in the girls, while Igor Samilanski defeated Guy Shamir 6-4, 6-3 in the boys' u-10 and Valaria Patyuk beat Eden Shaim 6-1, 6-4 in the girls.