Dudi Sela continued his Wimbledon adventure on Thursday afternoon after he beat American John Isner in an action-packed encounter.
Saying the result was one of his best over recent years, he told Jewish News: “It’s definitely up there with the best of them – it’s important for the points, the money, and to be in the third round. It feels a little bit like the good times are coming back for me, I lost to him on four times, so am glad to have beaten him in the second round of a Grand Slam.”
Happy with his performance, he said: “I’m very happy, thought I played a very solid match, although maybe I was also a bit lucky with some points.”
Always looking in control, despite finding himself 1-0 and 2-1 down in sets, he said: “I thought I played well on my service game, not so good on his, I felt like I didn’t put enough balls in, but overall I played at a very good level, from the first point to the last point – and it worked out well.
One of the images of the match was the two lining up – Isner soaring over Sela in terms of his height. “It’s different game, you play different against someone like that”, he said. “My first two service points are always important, I always want to be up in the first two points, to not give any chance to think he can break me, but always once I won it, I felt very comfortable.”
Believing the soaring temperatures on Court 12 also played in his favour, which also saw Isner take his time in the last three sets, he said: “It was good for me that it was hot today, he was getting very tired and playing very slow. I wasn’t surprised the umpire didn’t call him for a time violation, but normally when an umpire says ‘time’, you have to get up and not stay five seconds while I’m waiting five seconds, bouncing the ball.”
As well as the weather, he also had a boisterous crowd on his side, with pockets of Israeli fans all over the court. “It helps me and you know sometimes when the sun is on your head like for him, you hear all these Kadimahs, he’s feeling more tired after hearing all of them – it helps me and I like it!
Into the third round for just the second time, he next faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who beat a close friend of his, Argentine Diego Schwartzman, in the first round. “Maybe I’ll speak to him”, he said: “he’s going to Israel to watch friends playing at the Maccabiah, but I will definitely have a word with him! Dmitrov is a tough draw, I played him four times before, close matches, he’s improved since then, but I’m feeling confident.”
The match, which lasted just under four hours, was a tight affair, with the three of the five sets being won on a tiebreak.
Isner took the first set 7-5, after both players exchanged a break of serve each, before the Israeli levelled the match up, winning the second tiebreak of the afternoon.
The third set went with serve, until Isner broke Sela in the 12th game, as he took the set 7-5. however, Sela bounced back again, securing the fourth on the third tiebreak of the match.
Sela made the perfect start to the fifth and final set – breaking Isner in his first service game to go 2-0 up, and with no further breaks, sela served out the match, taking the set 6-3.
He next faces Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov, who knocked out Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the first round.
REACTION TO FOLLOW…