Tennis: Erlich powers into doubles quarters

Yoni Erlich's amazing run in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open continued on Sunday.

yoni erlich 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
yoni erlich 248 88
(photo credit: AP)

Yoni Erlich's amazing run in the doublestournament at the Australian Open continued on Sunday after the Israeliand Frenchman Arnaud Clement advanced to the quarterfinals in Melbournewith a 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 victory over Johan Brunstrom and Jean-JulienRojer.

Sincereturning from an eight-month injury layoff last April, the 32-year-oldErlich has struggled desperately, dropping all the way down to number278 in the world rankings last September.

Erlich entered the Aussie Open ranked No. 190 and with plentyof pressure on his shoulders, knowing that this would be the finaltournament with which he could qualify for with his protected ranking.

A player injured for a minimum of six months can ask for aprotected ranking, which is based on his average ranking during thefirst three months of his injury. Erlich won just four of his 16 ATPTour matches since making his return and another early exit inAustralia would have meant he would have had to settle forparticipation in Challenger events for the near future due to his lowlyranking.

However, by reaching the last eight in Melbourne,Erlich has already guaranteed himself of climbing around 90 places inthe rankings, meaning he will be able to enter small ATP tournamentsdirectly.

"I haven't had a winning streak since my comeback and I'm veryexcited ahead of the quarterfinals," said Erlich, who comes up againstNo. 2 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the last eight. "Everywin helps my ranking, but we are now facing a dominant team."

Erlich's former partner,Andy Ram, is the only other Israeli still playing in Melbourne Park.Ram and Elena Vesnina face Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Christopher Kas inthe second round of the mixed doubles tournament on Monday.