Ram and Erlich will need a convincing win against Damm and Paes to finish in the top two.
By ALLON SINAI
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were brought back down to earth Tuesday morning, losing 6-4, 6-4, to the world's fourth-ranked team of Australian Paul Hanley and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett in their second match of the round-robin stage at the Masters Cup in Shanghai, China.
The Israelis, who are ranked seventh in the season finale, stunned the tennis world by defeating the world's best doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the opening match of the Masters Cup on Sunday. However, Ram and Erlich were unsuccessful in recreating their magical play on Tuesday and were second best to Hanley and Ullyett throughout the entire match.
"I think today was definitely one of our best matches of the year," Ullyett said. "We converted on our breakpoints and everything went our way."
Hanley and Ullyett became the first team to book their place in the semifinal after their win against the Israelis, with the second spot to be decided on Thursday after the Bryans defeated Czech Martin Damm and Indian Leander Paes in three sets.
All three of the teams are still in contention for a top-two finish in the group, and Ram and Erlich will need a convincing win against Damm and Paes to boost their chances of finishing in the top two.
The Israelis began the match on Tuesday with a love service game, but the Australian/Zimbabwean duo replayed with a love game of their own and got the first break of the match in the third game of the set. Ram and Erlich squandered three break points in the sixth game of the set and would live to regret it, with Hanley and Ullyett retaining their service games and completing a 6-4 set win.
Hanley and Ullyett strengthened their hold on the match with a break in the first game of the second set, and thanks to their dominant serving would close out the match with another 6-4 set victory.
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