Sela deafeats Srichaphan in a great day for the Israelis

Sela: I played solid and every point I played the same.

sela with flag 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
sela with flag 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Dudi Sela recorded one of the biggest upsets of the opening day of the Australian Open, defeating Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday morning, and advancing to the second round of the tournament. And Shahar Pe'er (17) cruised through to the second round on Monday, outplaying Romina Oprandi (54) 6-1, 6-3, in a match which lasted a mere 73 minutes. Sela, who is ranked 202nd in the world and only reached the main draw after going through three qualifying rounds, outplayed the higher ranked Srichaphan (54) and secured the biggest win of his career in an hour and 50 minutes. "I played solid and every point I played the same," Sela said on Monday. "I think he was injured a little bit in his wrist and I tried to play long points because I could see that he was not at his best." Sela was ranked as high as third in the world as a junior player, but has failed to achieve similar success on the ATP circuit. The victory on Monday will be a huge psychological boost in the 21-year-old's quest to reach the world's top 100 and, regardless of his second round result, he is expected to climb almost 40 places in the rankings. "Last year I was injured for four months with a broken elbow so my ranking dropped, but I am looking to get into the top 100, that's my next aim," he said. Sela broke Srichaphan in the first game of the match but the Thai player broke back immediately, thanks to the Israelis two double faults. The first set remained tight until the ninth game when Sela broke his opponent and followed that up with a good service game to clinch the set. The Israeli began to dominate proceedings and raced through the second set, winning it 6-2 with two breaks of serve. Two early breaks for Sela in the third set gave him a 4-1 advantage and victory was secured in the eighth game with another successful service game. Sela faces an extremely tough obstacle in the second round where he'll play the 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin (26). The Russian defeated Benjamin Becker 5-7, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in his first round match and will be a huge favorite against his Israeli opponent. Out on court 19, Pe'er controlled her match and will play in the second round for the first time in her career after losing in the first round last year. The Israeli wasted no time and raced to a 6-1 first set win in just over half-an-hour. Oprandi put up a fight in the second set, but the Israeli held her nerve and despite being broken three times in the set won the match. "I played well and I was composed and did what I had to do," Pe'er said after the match. "The key was opening the 4-1 lead in the first set. After that everything was easier. Oprandi is a very good player and the match wasn't as easy as the final score may suggest." Pe'er's next opponent will be American Meilen Tu (90) who defeated Edina Gallovits (108) of Romania 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. "I've defeated Tu in both of our previous meetings, but that was 18 months ago," Pe'er said. "She will be feeling confident after her first round victory, but I will do everything I can to win again." Israel's great day at the Australian Open was slightly marred by Anna Smashnova's (63) 6-3, 6-1, defeat to Tatiana Golovin (23) of France. The 30-year-old Israeli, who has now lost five consecutive times at the first round of a Grand Slam tournament, was outclassed by Golovin and never even threatened the young Frenchwoman. Tzipi Obziler (121) will play her first round match on Tuesday against Russian Vera Zvonareva (24), with Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich playing their first round match in the men's doubles tournament later in the week.