Tennis / Israel Open

Glushko, Sela Are National Champions

Sela brushes aside Weintraub, but Glushko struggles to overcome outsider Lankri.

More than 1,000 spectators filled the stands at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center on Friday afternoon for the intriguing matchup between Israel’s top two male rackets. But the Israel Open men’s final was something of a letdown as Dudi Sela, ranked 73 in the world, had no problem beating Amir Weintraub (189) 6-1, 6-3.

The match actually started well for Weintraub, who won the opening game but then lost six straight games in a hopelessly one-sided first set.

Sela was the more composed of the two, moving around the court with ease and frustrating his opponent with accurate passing shots. Weintraub staged a brief comeback midway through the second set, breaking Sela’s serve, only to run out of ideas in the closing games as Sela took the fourth national title of his career.

“I started really well. Amir gave me a few opportunities and I pounced on them,” Sela said after the match. “I managed to maintain my level throughout the match. My service wasn’t really working for me, but I didn’t crack. I play a more balanced, mature game nowadays.”

“I’m sorry it was over so quickly,” Weintraub said. “It was Dudi’s fault – he played so well. I received a tennis lesson today. Since my operation I’m not moving around the court as easily. Next year it’ll be my turn to win.”

The women’s final was more interesting. Ofri Lankri reached the final without paying too much attention to the game’s etiquette in a match played in a carnival-like atmosphere thanks to the many vociferous schoolchildren and a couple of trumpeters in attendance. With her makeshift apparel, indelible smile and surprising left hand, she kept Julia Glushko - odds-on favorite in Shahar Pe’er’s absence - on her toes through a thrilling match.

Glushko, ranked 91 in the world, started nervously, losing her opening service game with two double faults. She soon regained her sharpness, but the underdog – 768 on the WTP computer – delighted the crowd by withstanding the onslaught while sportingly applauding her opponent’s winning shots. Even her father, Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri, looked taken aback by the gutsy performance.

After a thrilling hour of tennis, Glushko eventually won the first set in a tiebreak and breathed a sigh of relief. She tightened her hair band and came out fighting for the second set, which was a far less balanced affair as Glushko ran out the winner, 7-6, 6-2.

Shron Bukov