Trying to pass off as the rowdy crowd that Dudi Sela is perhaps used to when he plays in Tel Aviv was a trio of wayfarers, as the Israeli took on American Kevin Kim on one of the outside courts.
“David, King of Israel, is alive and lives on,” chanted the threesome as their compatriot staggered through his round-two match, winning despite playing some ordinary tennis, especially early on.
Elegant as Sela’s single-handed backhand might have been, Stanislas Wawrinka was giving a more ruthless exhibition of its efficacy on centre court.
For the fan who likes drama as much as the tennis, court-two was the place to be. With Sela remonstrating with the linesmen, the chair umpire, himself and anything that moved, it made for a welcome distraction from the stale standards of the first set and the earnest but gratingly repetitive cries of ‘Go Sela’.
As the match moved towards its denouement, a bunch of autograph-hunters stalked Sela with scary purposefulness. After it was over, the kids moved in, and Sela had nowhere to go.
The five-foot-eight Sela counts his court coverage as a weapon that eases the difficulty that a lack of height can impose on one’s game.
“The ball is bouncing lower than it does on grass, so maybe I’m in a better position than other players. I can move better. But, I think taller players can serve better and cover the net better. It has never been a handicap; you can’t do anything about it. I (also) have good ground strokes to compensate for the height,” he said.
A quarterfinal match up with Lukas Lacko might present a change of setting for Sela, who has played both his matches so far on the outside courts; the match is quite likely to be played on centre court.
“I always love playing with support. I may not initially get much support here. But the crowd here is sportive, and if I play well there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get support…unless, of course, I’m playing against an Indian,” he said.
The draw being shorn of the Indian angle barely three days into the tournament, the Israeli can look forward to playing on centre court.