News & Press

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Erlich & Ram Through to Semifinals; Bryans Fall

Sixth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles handed two-time defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan their first defeat at the Australian Open for two years on Wednesday. Bhupathi and Knowles triumphed 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5) on Rod Laver Arena in two hours and 24 minutes.

The World No. 1 Bryan brothers fought back from a 2-4 deficit in the third set and had one break point in the ninth game against the new pairing for the 2008 season. Bhupathi and Paes took their chances, winning 111 points to the Bryans’ 110 total points, for a place in the semifinals.

The Bryans captured the 2006 (d. Damm-Paes) and 2007 (d. Bjorkman-Mirnyi) Australian Open titles, following two runner-up finishes in 2004 (l. to Llodra-Santoro) and 2005 (l. to Black-Ullyett).

Bhupathi and Knowles will next meet eight-seeded Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram (pictured), who defeated Frenchmen Marc Gicquel and Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-1.

With their 69-minute victory over the new tandem, Erlich and Ram matched their team's best Grand Slam result - a semifinal finish in 2003 at Wimbledon. The Israelis are making their sixth appearance in Melbourne and had previously not advanced beyond the third round.

The 35-year-old Santoro, the winner of the 2003-04 Australian Open doubles title with compatriot Michael Llodra, was making his 16th and final appearance in Melbourne - his 12th in the doubles draw - after making his singles debut in 1991. He bowed out to World No. 1 Roger Federer last week in the second round of the singles main draw.

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