Ram/Erlich go back-to-back; Pe’er returns to Top 100; Israel’s Davis Cup dilemma

Israel Tennis Association forced to pay 10,000 euros in compensation for changing date of tourney to avoid playing on Yom Kippur.

Ram and Ehrlich 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ram and Ehrlich 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich’s decision to take a step back and play on the Challenger circuit in recent weeks has more than paid off, with the Israelis winning their second straight title in Aptos, California, late Sunday night.
Ram and Erlich defeated Australians Chris Guccione and Matt Reid 6-3, 6-7 (6), 10-2 in the final, lifting their second piece of silverware in a week after also triumphing in Vancouver.
Ram only returned to playing on a full-time basis in late April after missing seven months following hip surgery, dropping as low as No. 175 in the world last month. However, he climbed 10 more places to No. 114 on Monday thanks to the victory in Aptos, with Erlich moving up one place to No. 63.
“We are happy that we have managed to maintain a good level over the past three weeks,” said Ram.
“Our goal in the past month was to try and play together as many matches as possible and regain our confidence ahead of the US Open.
The plan worked out perfectly and this is very encouraging for the future.”
Ram and Erlich’s improved form and growing confidence is also good news for Israel’s Davis Cup team ahead of next month’s World Group playoff showdown with Belgium.
Unfortunately for Israel, the World Group playoffs were set for the weekend of September 13-15, with the middle day of the ties falling on Yom Kippur.
The Belgian Tennis Federation initially refused to start the tie a day early or end it a day late in order to avoid playing on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. After the intervention of the International Tennis Federation, it was determined that the tie would begin on Thursday rather than Friday, meaning the Israelis will not be asked to play on Yom Kippur.
However, the change proved to be a costly one for the Israel Tennis Association after it was forced to pay the BTF around 10,000 euros in compensation.
“The Israel Tennis Association is a nonprofit organization, which designates all of its funds to promote tennis in Israel and develop Israeli tennis players,” read a letter written by ITA chairman Asi Touchmair, which was posted on the association’s website.
“As a result, the high fine is a detrimental blow for the budget of the professional program for the Israeli tennis teams and to Israeli tennis in general.”
Touchmair went on to suggest several ways in which his “fellow Jews” can help the ITA, including buying tickets for the tie, purchasing an official Israeli tennis team training suit at 200 euros or joining the entire Israeli team for a dinner in Antwerp at the cost of 2,000 euros per person.
Meanwhile, Shahar Pe’er jumped 30 places to No. 83 in the world on Monday after winning the Suzhou WTA Tour title on Saturday.
Pe’er has climbed almost 100 places in the rankings in less than two months after dropping as low as No. 179 in late June.
Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal climbed one place to No. 3 in the world after thumping Canada’s Milos Raonic 6- 2, 6-2 in the final of the men’s Rogers Cup on Sunday to capture his eighth ATP title this season and boost his confidence ahead of the US Open, which starts later this month.
Playing in his first tournament since his shock opening-round loss at Wimbledon, Nadal showed he was back to near his best and his ailing body was ready for the grueling demands of the North American hard-court season.
Less than 24 hours after his hardfought semifinal win over Novak Djokovic on Saturday, Nadal easily beat the dangerous Raonic in just over an hour, playing with all the conviction and freedom of a man near the peak of his powers.
“To win here, I had to be playing my top level,” Nadal told reporters.
“I’m very happy the way that I played almost every match in this tournament. It’s very important for me, this title.”
Sunday’s victory provided Nadal with his third win at the Rogers Cup and his 25th career Masters title.
Raonic moved into the top 10 for the first time after becoming the first Canadian man in more than half a century to reach the Rogers Cup final.
“The breakthroughs I’ve had this week, with everything, from ranking to results, it’s all great things to have happen, especially here at home,” he said.
“Even though I don’t have the time now to sit back and analyze, there will be a time when I can stop, reflect upon it, learn as much as I can from it.”
While Nadal’s troublesome knees showed no signs of giving him problems, they remain under constant scrutiny, especially when he’s preparing for the US Open, played on the most physically demanding surface of the four Grand Slam events.
But Nadal also won the Indian Wells Masters on hard-court earlier this year and said he was steadily growing in confidence on the surface.
“I am doing things very well on hard courts,” he said.
“Today is an important example that I can play this way in the future.
“That’s given me confidence, that if I keep working this way, I can have good results playing very aggressive.”
Reuters contributed to this report.