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Israel’s Erlich beaten in Wimbledon doubles semifinal

38-year-old tennis veteran and his German partner bow out in four sets; Israeli played through match with injury

Yoni Erlich, at the net on the far side of the court, during the Wimbledon men’s doubles semi-final on July 9, 2015 (Channel 5 screenshot)
Yoni Erlich, at the net on the far side of the court, during the Wimbledon men’s doubles semi-final on July 9, 2015 (Channel 5 screenshot)

Israeli tennis veteran Yoni Erlich and his German partner Phillipp Petzschner were beaten by three sets to one in the Wimbledon men’s doubles semifinal on Thursday.

Erlich and Petzschner lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to Britain’s Jamie Murray and Australian John Peers.

It was Erlich’s first Wimbledon semi for 12 years, and, at age 38, the opportunity is unlikely to come again.

Erlich played despite an injury to his right knee so serious that he had considered defaulting on the match altogether. In the event, he played well in the early stages, but was clearly in pain.

Yoni Erlich. (CC BY-SA Olympic Committee of Israel/Wikipedia)
Yoni Erlich. (CC BY-SA Olympic Committee of Israel/Wikipedia)

He did not lose his own serve at all in the match, while Petzschner was broken four times, but an Erlich at full speed would have contributed more and pushed their opponents harder.

As it was, Erlich showed deft touches and sharp responses close to the net, but was hampered as he moved around the court, and in pain whenever he landed heavily on the injured leg.

Erlich and partner Petzschner had defeated Roland Garros champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in four sets Tuesday to make the semis.

“I knew I had still had it me, especially on grass, especially at Wimbledon,” Erlich had said of that victory, speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 on Wednesday.

His former partner Andy Ram, who is three years younger and retired from the sport, acknowledged that: “I had told him, ‘Stop already!'”

Jonathan Erlich watches as his team mate Andy Ram, of Israel, returns the ball to the team from Argentina during the Davis Cup match in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday, September 13, 2014. (photo credit: AP/J. Pat Carter)
Jonathan Erlich watches as his teammate Andy Ram, of Israel, returns the ball to the team from Argentina during a Davis Cup match in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday, September 13, 2014. (AP/J. Pat Carter)

Erlich won most of his 17 career doubles titles with Ram, including the Australian Open in 2008. His last tournament doubles victory was in Serbia in 2012.

Erlich and Petzschner were unseeded for the tournament. Murray and Peers, seeded 13, enjoyed strong home support: Murray’s younger brother Andy is Britain’s top tennis player, won Wimbledon in 2013, and is through to this year’s singles semis, where he will play Roger Federer on Friday.

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