Israeli tennis player Jonathan Erlich dropped a two-set lead in his men’s doubles match at Wimbledon on Monday, bringing his run at the tennis tourney to an end in the third round.
In a five-set epic, 41-year-old Erlich and his Polish playing partner Marcin Matkowski started strong, but looked increasingly tired, as they lost the last three sets to India’s Divij Sharan and New Zealand’s Artem Sitak, falling 6-1, 7-6(3), 4-6, 4-6, 4-6.
Israel’s only singles player in this year’s main draw, 33-year-old Dudi Sela, lost to world number one Rafael Nadal last week in straight sets in the first round.
After an easy first set, in which Erlich and Matkowski broke serve multiple times, the play was more even in the second set, which was decided by a tie-breaker won by the Israeli-Polish duo.
But Sharan and Sitak bounced back with a decisive break of Erlich’s serve in the third set and a similar break in the fourth, to level the game and force a deciding set.
With Matkowski looking exhausted and Erlich again losing his serve at a crucial moment, the couple lost the fifth set 4-6, and missed out on a spot in the quarterfinal in London.
The loss came after a win for Erlich and Matkowski in straight sets in the first round, and a shock victory over last year’s winners, 2nd-ranked Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo.
The 88th-ranked Erlich, a veteran player, who has been on the doubles tour since 2000, achieved his career highest ranking of 5 in July 2008, six months after winning his only Grand Slam — that year’s Australian Open — with his long-time Israeli playing partner Andy Ram, who retired in 2014.