Re: Andyoni !!
From the Jerusalem Post:
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich went into the record books of Israeli sports on Saturday after winning their first ever Grand Slam tennis title in the men's doubles final of the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Israeli duo defeated Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France 7-5, 7-6.
Erlich and Ram have won 10 tournaments together and are unbeaten in Davis Cup play since 2005. But since their semi-final appearance in Wimbledon 2003, the Israeli pair, which is is seeded 8th in the tournament, did not shine in Grand Slam events. It took seven Australian Open appearances for them to reach the final.
However, on Saturday, Ram and Erlich were determined to win their first Grand Slam title, with much help from dozens of Israeli supporters in the crowd who waved Israeli flags and never stopped pushing them forward.
They celebrated their win by hugging and hoisting each other into the air. Erlich went on to carry Ram on his back as he jogged around the court.
"We were fighting hard, we were much more hungry I think than Llodra and Clement today," Ram said. "They have a Grand Slam title already, maybe that's why."
"Since I was born I've been waiting for this time," an emotional Erlich said after the two accepted the trophy.
Turning to Clement and Llodra, Erlich said: "I know it's not easy to lose in the finals, but its [good] to play with such great players, and it's always a pleasure to be with them on the court."
"I want to thank our coach...our dear friends who came from the US and Israel...and last but not least all our fans," he said.
"I don't think there's a better place to start the year than Australia," he concluded to cheers from the crowd.
Ram said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had already phoned to congratulate them, but they missed the call.
"They left me a message to call him back and I couldn't reach him," he said.
The win also earned the pair a prize of $440,000.
Ram, who won the 2007 French Open mixed doubles title with Natalie Dechy, said Saturday's title was by far the greater achievement.
"We're so happy to be the first Israelis. We made history today," he said. "I'm very happy for both of us. We believed we could win the Grand Slam title. We really believed in this."
In a bold move for an Israeli pair, Erlich and Ram are now considering traveling to the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Tennis Championships.
"The ATP will do all they can do to provide us the right security. And if we decide to go, I think it's a big tournament," Ram said.
In the semi-finals, Ram and Erlich defeated No. 6 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-4, 6-4 in what was their fifth consecutive straight sets win.