Israel’s last representative at this year’s Wimbledon, Jonathan Erlich, suffered a dramatic exit on Monday afternoon after he and Marcin Matkowski threw away a two-set lead in the double’s competition.
Admitting the manner of the defeat was a ‘heartbreaker’, he said: “It’s also disappointing and frustrated. Even at 2-0 up, we had a few chances, but they had a little bit of luck on some of the shots, coming out with a few crazy shots, lobs on the line, I think we lost a bit of concentration, our energy went down and it was the same in the fourth. They stayed, aggressive, had a lot of energy, we were winning quite easy, they did their job a little better, we had a few times to break at love-30 but couldn’t see it through.
“Once you get to the fifth set, they played better, had more energy and we didn’t, physically we were a bit tired, we still had love-30 a couple of times, but you have to win it. We were better at the beginning [of the set], but at this level you have to win when you get the opportunities, particularly on grass but we didn’t take them. Well done to them, but this match was there for us,. No excuses, I give them all the respect, they fought it out, but we had to execute certain points better.”
Teaming up with the Pole, the pair went into the match Indian Divij Sharan and New Zealand’s Artem Sitak, in high spirits, having knocked out the second seeds in the previous round on Friday.
And they continued where they left off, three days ago, winning a relatively straightforward first set, 6-1. The second proved to be a more even affair, with all twelve service games held – albeit the Israeli-Polish duo saving two break points in their final one. That resulted in a tie-break, which they won 7-3 to double their advantage.
They didn’t though have everything go their way in the third, and having been broken, saw Sharan and Sitak serve out the set – to halve the deficit – which they did. It was more of the same in the fourth, with another solitary break seeing Sharan and Sitak win the fourth set 6-4.
The fifth and final set saw the Israeli-Polish duo endure a nervous start, with them forced to save break points in their second service game, Erlich was broken at 3-3, from which point they always looked in trouble. Matlowski, serving to stay in the match, managed to stave off three match points, but it was wrapped up when Sharan held his own serve, to crown off a memorable win.
Not able to take any comfort from having beaten the second seeds in the last round, with it only heightening the disappointment of this loss, he said: “I can’t think back at this type of thing, or I would commit suicide every time I think about it! We knew every match is a tough one, best of five sets, I still think we were the better team out there, but you have to give them all the credit for seeing it through.”
And as to whether this run will convince him to come back next year, he said: “It’s too early to say now, I don’t know, I set out to finish this year and then see what happens.”