January 27, 2008

Israel's Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won their first Grand Slam title Saturday with victory over French duo Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra at the Australian Open.

Erlich and Ram, seeded eighth and first-time Grand Slam finalists, earned a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) victory and became the first Israeli pair to win a grand slam title. This was their sixth appearance in Melbourne and before this year they hadn't advanced beyond the third round. Their best Grand Slam result before this week was a semifinal run four years ago at Wimbledon.

Clement and Llodra, seeded seventh, were the reigning Wimbledon champions. Llodra was trying for his third Australian Open doubles title, having won back-to-back championships from 2003-04 with Fabrice Santoro. Clement, the 2001 singles runner-up, appeared in his first Australian Open doubles final.

The match was interrupted by rain with Erlich and Ram leading 4-2 but they were untroubled by the 30-minute delay.

"I need to thank my partner, he played one of his best matches ever -- unbelievable," said Erlich.

It was Elrich and Ram's 11th career title together and they are unbeaten in Davis Cup doubles since March 2005.

"We believe we're one of the best teams in the world. It's a great day for us, our family and for Israel, for everybody."

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