2003 IN REVIEW
The Israeli No. 1 returned near Top 100 after slipping to No. 254 in previous year…Compiled a 4-7 mark in ATP matches and 26-14 in Challenger action…Also had 32-8 record in Challenger doubles while winning five titles with three different partners in last six events…Won first ATP match of season in Estoril, defeating Verkerk before falling to Robredo in 2nd RD…Also reached 2nd RD at Munich by defeating Carlsen before three-set loss to Youzhny in next match…Had stellar record on Challenger circuit from September through rest of year, reaching finals in Grenoble (l. to Gasquet) and Dnepropetrovsk (l. to Labadze), SF in St. Jean de Luz (l. to Santoro) and Groningen (l. to J. Johansson) and QF in Nottingham (l. to van Lottum)…Also caught fire in Challenger doubles late in year with back-to-back titles in Grenoble (w/Baccanello) and Groningen (w/Hadad)…Continued trend in late October, winning three consecutive titles in as many weeks at Nottingham (w/Hadad), Bratislava and Dnepropetrovsk (both w/Erlich).
1996-Won first ATP doubles match in Tel Aviv (w/Hadad) and lost in QF...1997-Played in his first Challenger in Eilat and lost in 2nd RD...1998-Played in his first Futures tournament at Israel #1 and won title over countryman Noam Behr...Won Greece #7 Futures title and finished runner-up at Greece #6 Futures...Made ATP singles debut in New Haven as qualifier (d. Canas, Schuettler, l. to Krajicek in 3rd RD)...Appeared in his first Davis Cup tie in World Group playoff against France, losing to Raoux in 2nd rubber and defeated Pioline in dead rubber...1999-Captured first Challenger title in Lexington (d. K. Kim) and reached final at Aptos...Made lone ATP appearance in Indianapolis (d. Novak, l. to Rios)...In doubles, captured title at Budapest-2 Challenger (w/Okun) and reached two...2000-Became first Israeli to finish in Top 100 since Amos Mansdorf was No. 70 in 1994... Highlight of year came when he advanced to first career final at TMS Toronto as a qualifier (l. to Safin)...First qualifier to reach a TMS final since Carretero won Hamburg in 1996 and first Israeli to reach an ATP final since Mansdorf in Tel Aviv in 1994...2001-Finished as Israel's No. 1 for second consecutive year despite series of injuries, and reached second career ATP final...Made Australian Open debut at beginning of year, reaching 2nd RD (l. to Chela)...Advanced to 3rd RD at Memphis and SF in Arizona two weeks later (d. Henman in QF before losing to M. Norman in SF in two tie-breaks)...Advanced to QF in first appearance at TMS Roma with victories over Sampras, Clavet and Kiefer (l. to Vinciguerra)...Reached second career ATP final at Nottingham (d. Roddick in SF, l. to Johansson in F)...Went 6-2 in Davis Cup singles and doubles play…Underwent right hip surgery Nov. 1 in Nashville and returned Apr. 8 following year…2002-Finished season with 5-10 record in limited action due to injuries…Won first career US Open match by defeating Pavel in five sets (l. to R. Delgado)…Was 2-0 in Davis Cup singles.
Began playing tennis at age seven and says at that time, "had to choose between soccer and tennis"...Became interested in tennis when he used to accompany his father, Yoel, to a local club...Father imports jewelry from Indonesia to sell in Israel...Mother, Nitza, is a nurse...Has two younger sisters, Ofri and Stav...When traveling, calls his family at least once or twice a day and his father is a frequent media room caller...Served in Israeli army for three years after graduating from high school and got out on August 13, 2000, one week after playing in his first ATP final at TMS Toronto...Good friend of Gustavo Kuerten and has traveled to Brazil to train with Guga during off-season...Considers hard courts as best surface...Has a 13-6 career Davis Cup record (11-2 in singles) in eight ties since 1998...Coached by Oded Jacob from age 12-16 and then again from age 18-present.