AFTER drawing Argentinian star Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round last year, Israeli Dudi Sela has endured yet another tough start at the Australian Open, going down to 37th seed Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci on Tuesday, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.
In an exclusive interview with The AJN, Sela said: “I’ve played him twice before and I had beat him, [so] it was an OK draw for me, but unfortunately I’m not in the second round.”
Tough Australian summer conditions proved too challenging for Sela, who admitted his lack of energy was a key factor in his downfall.
“In Israel it was not so hot … so it’s the first day I’ve played in the heat for a long time,” Sela said.
But he is now looking ahead to what the rest of the year could bring, especially the possibility of re-entering the top 50 for the first time since 2010.
“I have nothing to defend until June, so two or three good matches and I’m back in the top 50,” he said.
“The three years before [now], I finished one year close to the [top] 50 and two years in the 50, so I hope I can get back there again.”
Despite his 27th birthday approaching in April and competing in what was his sixth Australian Open, Sela believes his career is far from over, as long as he is constantly playing in grand slam events.
“I see my friends who are going to the office every day, and my father is a bus driver and my mother is a nurse, so I see what they are doing every day and I think it is very difficult,” Sela said.
He has become a cult hero, both in Israel and among the Australian Jewish community, and it is something that certainly does not go unnoticed.
“Yeah it’s nice to have the Israelis behind you, and the Jewish people also from Australia that come to watch,” he said.
“I really like it.”
ASHLEY SHENKER AT MELBOURNE PARK