Turn the conversation to the upcoming Davis Cup World Group Playoffs and the tennis champs' eyes light up.
By HOWARD BLAS JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
NEW YORK – Ask Andy Ram and Dudi Sela about their tennis successes these past few weeks, and they don’t have much to say.However, turn the conversation to the upcoming Davis Cup World Group Playoffs at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, September 16-19, and their eyes light up.Ram and Sela have spent the past few weeks playing tournaments in the United States. Ram and his current doubles partner, Julian Knowle of Austria, reached the semifinals at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut.They then lost a very close first-round match at the US Open to Ram’s close friend and long-time doubles partner, Yoni Erlich (and Jordan Kerr of Australia), 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.In US Open mixed doubles, sixth-seeded Ram and Elena Vesnina won their first round match against Americans Eric Butorac and Raquel Kops-Jones, but lost in the second round to Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.Sela won his first round match in the US Open singles draw against Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6, 7-5, 6-2, but lost his second-round match to 12th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.In a post-match interview following his loss to Youzhny, Sela told The Jerusalem Post, “I didn’t play too well in the first two sets – I wasn’t too aggressive, I just waited for him.“In the third set, I was more free.”Sela noted several bad line calls, and also felt weather conditions contributed to a slower court.“I like it when the sun is out and the courts are faster.”Sela wishes the upcoming Davis Cup in Israel would be played outdoors.“The fact that we are playing indoors is better for Austria.”Yet, Sela understands the logic of the decision to play indoors, in an air-conditioned stadium which seats 11,000 as opposed to the much smaller Hod Hasharon national tennis center.In response to a series of question by an Austrian journalist, Sela conceded, “Austria is a very good team,” and that “[Jurgen] Melzer is a sure two points [win] for Austria – he is a very good player, he is 15th in the world, and I lost to him on clay.”In response to the journalist’s question about what the Davis Cup “means,” Sela explained, “We on the Israeli team are all good friends, and we all support each other – that’s why we did well last year against Russia.”Sela also explained the benefits of playing at home.“Having the crowd behind us gives a good feeling. It gives us confidence. We do better at home in front of thousands of screaming fans.”Sela empathizes with the Austrian team.“We once played in Chile – the crowd was the worst. It won’t be easy for the Austrians – the key is the crowd, and for us to fight hard and play well.”Ram is also looking forward to returning to Israel for the Davis Cup tie against Austria. Ram smiled as he exclaimed to the Post in New York Saturday, “I will play against [current doubles partner] Julian [Knowle] – it should be interesting” Ram, too, is excited to return to Israel and play “in front of 10,000 people.”Ram confidently noted, “In Israel, we can beat anyone!”
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