Tennis: Ram, Erlich gain precious first Masters win

Ram and Erlich broke in the eighth game with some superb play and tied the score at 4-4.

ram erlich 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
ram erlich 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Technology came to the rescue of Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich on Sunday in the duo's 7-6 (1), 3-6, 14-12 victory over Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett in the Masters Cup in Shanghai. Ullyett appeared to hit an ace at 8-6 in the match tiebreaker to set up three match points for the Zimbabwean/Australian team. Erlich, however, challenged the linesman's call and hawk-eye technology showed that the ball was in fact out. The Israelis went on to claim the point and eventually clinched a superb win over the No. 2 seeds on their third match point. "We're very happy to win our first match in the tournament, especially against a duo that defeated us the last two times we met," Ram and Erlich said after the match. "We're very pleased to have won the match tiebreaker after struggling in similar situations over the last month. We have a rest day on Monday ahead of our next match, which will also be difficult." Ram and Erlich, who only qualified for the prestigious event after the world's No. 1 duo of Bob and Mike Bryan withdrew through injury, can take a big step toward the semifinals with another win against Martin Damm and Leander Paes on Tuesday. Damm and Paes beat defending champions Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi 6-4, 6-1 in Ram and Erlich's group earlier Sunday. Hanley and Ullyett claimed the first break of serve in the fifth game and held to love in the subsequent game to take a 4-2 lead. Ram and Erlich broke in the eighth game with some superb play and tied the score at 4-4. Both teams held serve comfortably in the next four games and the set would have to be decided on a tiebreak. Two excellent plays by Erlich gave the Israelis a 3-1 lead in the breaker and a Ram volley winner in the eighth point clinched the first set. Hanley and Ullyett broke in the sixth game of the second set after Erlich sent his volley into the net and held their serves throughout the remainder of the set to tie the match. Ram and Erlich won four of the first five points of the match tiebreaker and led 6-3 at one stage. Five straight points for the Zimbabwean/Australian duo brought the No. 2 seeds within two points of the win (8-6), but three consecutive points for the Israelis gave them a match point. Ullyett kept his team in the match with a volley winner and it reached its own match point when Erlich sent the ball long (10-9). Erlich made up for his miss with a winner at the net to save the match point and, despite squandering another chance to claim the match at 12-11, the Israelis completed the win on the 26th point of the breaker after Ullyett sent his volley long.