Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich became the first Israeli doubles tennis team to win a Grand Slam tennis title. The pair, seeded eighth, defeated the seventh-seeded French duo of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llorda in the Australian Open final Saturday in Melbourne. Ram has won two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, but never with an Israeli partner. â€œIt’s a great day for us, for our family, for Israel, for everybody,â€ Ram said, who noted that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had already called the pair to congratulate them. “He left a message for us to call him back; he couldn’t reach us.â€
Hundreds of flag-waving Israelis were in the crowd, including Israelâ€™s ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, who traveled with his staff from Canberra for the match. The Israelis, who did not drop a set in the tournament, earned $393,211 for their victory.
Shahar Peer earlier in the tournament had become the first Israeli female to reach a Grand Slam final, but lost in three sets with her partner, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. The three Israelis are planning to play in Arab countries next month. Peer is poised to become the first Israeli to play in Qatar, while Ram and Erlich are considering a Dubai tournament along with another Israeli, Tzipi Obziler.