Israeli pair advances to Aussie finals


Israel’s top tennis doubles duo reached the Australian Open finals in Melbourne.

Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, seeded eighth, will meet the seventh-seeded French tandem of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra on Saturday in their first Grand Slam title together.

Ram and Erlich advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal victory over Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, the No. 6 seeds, who had upset the top-seeded defending champions, American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan, in the quarterfinals.

Ram and Erlich join Shahar Peer, who has qualified for the women’s doubles final on Friday with her partner, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka.

And in what could be a history-making weekend, Ram can still qualify for the mixed doubles final on Sunday with his partner, Nathalie Dechy.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s a dream,” Ram told JTA after the match. “Nobody could think of one Israeli in the final, now two and maybe three. It’s crazy.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Erlich added. “It’s a beautiful feeling. We have been waiting for this for a while – and I’m very happy this day has arrived.”

Ram and Erlich reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2003. Ram has won two mixed doubles titles in Grand Slam events.


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