|Residence||Ramat Hasharon, Israel|
August 5, 1978 |
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Plays||Right-handed (one-handed backhand)|
4 Challengers, 7 Futures
|Highest ranking||No. 30 (June 25, 2001)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||2R (2001)|
|French Open||2R (2001)|
|US Open||2R (2002)|
|Highest ranking||No. 71 (May 19, 2008)|
|Davis Cup||SF (2009)|
|Last updated on: November 3, 2012.|
Harel Levy (Hebrew: הראל לוי; born August 5, 1978 in Kibbutz Nahshonim, Israel) is a retired Israeli professional male tennis player. He reached the final of the 2000 Toronto Masters and achieved a career-high singles ranking of World No. 30 (June 2001), with his best doubles ranking being World No. 71 in May 2008. Levy was a key factor in Israel's semifinal run in the 2009 Davis Cup.
In a career interrupted by both Israeli Army service and serious hip surgery, Levy notably scored victories over Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang and Wayne Ferreira. As well as reaching the singles final of the 2000 Toronto Masters, he finished runner-up at Nottingham in 2001 and won a doubles title in Newport, Rhode Island.
Levy began playing tennis at age seven. His family moved to Portugal for a year and half when he was nine years old. They returned to Israel, and in 1992 the family moved to Ramat Hasharon so he could train at the Israel Tennis Centers there. That year, he was # 1 in the under-14 age group in Israel.
Told that younger Jewish players look up to him, Levy said: "It's nice to hear that. I want to represent Israel and the Jewish people the best I can. I play for myself first. But then whatever my play can do for the Jewish community is great — just great."
In March 1998 he and Lior Mor won in Israel, defeating Barry Cowan and Filippo Veglio 6–4, 7–6 in the final. In June he and partner Raviv Weidenfeld won in Ireland, defeating Daniele Braccoalo and Igor Gaudi 7–6, 6–4 in the final. In July he and Mor won in Greece, defeating Gilles Elseneer and Wim Neefs 6–3, 0–6, 6–3 in the final.
In July 1999 while ranked # 241 he beat Michael Chang, formerly ranked # 2 in the world, 6–4, 6–3, at the Safeway Challenger in Aptos, California. In August 1999 at Indianapolis he defeated world # 40 Jiří Novák, 7–5 6–1. In September he and partner Noam Okun won at Budapest, defeating Daniel Fiala and Leoš Friedl 6–4, 4–6, 6–2 in the final.
In January 2000 he and partner Jonathan Erlich won at Orlando, Florida, defeating Óscar Ortiz and Jimy Szymanski 6–3, 6–4 in the final. In July they won at Newport, Rhode Island, defeating Kyle Spencer and Mitch Sprengelmeyer 7–6 (2), 7–5 in the final of the Hall of Fame tennis championship.
In July 2000 at the Tennis Masters Series-Canada tournament in Toronto, while ranked only 144th in the world, he used whiplike ground strokes, a tantalizing drop shot, and winners off his one-handed to beat world # 73 Martin Damm, # 47 Stefan Koubek, # 27 Sébastien Grosjean, # 61 Jérôme Golmard, and # 55 Jiří Novák, before losing in the finals to # 9 Marat Safin. Levy more than doubled his career earnings with the $211,000 runner-up prize. Levy was the first Israeli to reach an ATP Tour final since Amos Mansdorf in 1994, and jumped to # 70 in the world rankings.
Levy completed his three years of military service in the IDF in August 2000.
In March 2001 he upset world # 10 Tim Henman of Great Britain 6–2, 6–4 at Scottsdale.
In May 2001 Levy upset the world's top player, Pete Sampras, at the Italian Open, 7–5, 2–6, 6–4, saving 13 of 17 break points. In his next match at the tournament, he beat world # 33 Francisco Clavet 6–4, 7–6 (6), and then whipped Nicolas Kiefer, 6–2, 6–4, winning 80% of his first serves. Levy played down his achievements by joking that he was more depressed by his Israeli soccer team (Maccabi Haifa) losing that week than excited by his success. "I still like soccer much more than tennis", he shrugged. In the quarterfinals he subsequently lost to Sweden's Andreas Vinciguerra.
In June 2001 Levy upset world # 17 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 6–2, 6–4. He then beat world # 40 Andy Roddick 7–6 (3), 5–7, 6–3 with powerful groundstrokes and spinning drop shots, while sustaining a hip injury. At one point, Roddick prostrated himself on the court, worshipping with outstretched arms in Levy's direction after Levy had gone up 40–0 on Roddick's serve on three cross-court passes. "He'd produced three running passing shots in a row", Roddick explained. "My approach play hadn't been bad. He just came up with power and speed and there was nothing I could do about it at all." Levy lost in the finals of the Nottingham Tournament in England to Thomas Johansson of Sweden, 7–5, 6–3, despite his use of what had become by then his trademark drop volleys. In late June he retired from his first round Wimbledon match with a hip injury. On June 25, at the age of 22, he reached the ranking of # 30 in the world.
In November 2001 Levy flew to the US for arthroscopic surgery for an injured knee, and also had complicated hip surgery to address his injury in Nottingham. He spent six months home in Ramat Ha-Sharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, recuperating, and in April 2002 returned to playing tennis.
Levy was hampered by injuries for much of the 2002 season. By July 2002, his ranking had dropped to 326. The following month he said: "I'm not going to be back to a hundred percent, but if I get back to 90%, I'll be very happy."
At the US Open in 2002 he defeated world # 30 Andrei Pavel 1–6, 7–6 (7), 4–6, 6–3, 6–4. A partisan crowd cheered him on. Asked how much the crowd helped him, Levy shrugged: "In percentages, you want? OK, around 23½."
At the qualifying tournament for Wimbledon in 2003, Levy defeated Paul Goldstein in the first round, and reached the 3rd round before losing. In September 2003, Levy and partner Paul Baccanello of Australia won the doubles title at the Open de l'Isère, defeating Rik de Voest and Johan Landsberg 5–7, 6–4, 7–6 (5) in Grenoble, France. Levy also reached the singles final at the tournament. Later that month he paired with Amir Hadad to defeat Fred Hemmes, Jr and Raemon Sluiter 6–4, 6–4 to win in Groningen, the Netherlands. In October he and Hadad defeated Scott Humphries and Mark Merklein 6–4, 6–7 (3), 6–3 to win in Nottingham, England. Levy was back in peak form at the Dnepropetrovsk tournament in November 2003. He reached the singles final before succumbing to Georgian Irakli Labadze 3–6, 6–3, 1–6. Levy fared better in the doubles tournament where, along with partner Jonathan Erlich he won the title in straight sets, 6–4, 6–3, over Simon Aspelin and Johan Landsberg. He and Erlich also won that month at Bratislava, Slovakia, defeating Mario Ančić and Martin García 7–6 (7), 6–3 in the final. He finished 2003 ranked 111th in the world in singles.
The doubles performances of Levy and his partner Amir Hadad in the months of April and May, 2005, were impressive. In late April the Israelis captured the Hungary F1 tournament in Budapest, defeating Nikola Martinović and Josko Topic 5–7, 6–2, 6–1 in the final. A few days later they won the F2 title in Miskolc as well, beating Bastian Knittel and Marius Zay 6–1, 6–0 in the final. Levy and Hadad then competed in May in the German town of Furth, where they took the title from Jan Frode Andersen and Johan Landsberg, 6–1, 6–2. In July they won at Budaors, Hungary, defeating Adam Chadaj and Stéphane Robert 6–4, 6–7 (7), 6–3.
In 2005 Levy won the USTA Tulsa Challenger, beating Benedikt Dorsch of Germany, the reigning NCAA men's singles champion, in a three-hour duel 5–7, 7–5, 7–6 (6). In September 2005 he and partner Noam Okun won in Istanbul, Turkey, defeating David Škoch and Martin Štěpánek in the final, 6–4, 7–5.
In January 2006, a right shoulder injury forced him to retire from a Sydney ATP singles match, and sidelined him for a week. In June 2006 he and Giorgio Galimberti won in Milan, Italy, defeating Frederico Gil and Juan Albert Viloca in the final, 6–3, 6–3. In August he and partner Sam Warburg won in the Bronx, New York, defeating Scott Lipsky and David Martin in the Bronx Classic final, 6–4, 7–5.
In early 2007 Levy was suspended from all competition for three months by the Israel Tennis Federation for failing to participate in a State Cup tennis match that the ITF had organized.
In April 2007 he and Warburg won at Valencia, California, defeating Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino in the final, 6–2, 6–4. In June they won at Yuba City, California, defeating Eric Nuñez and Jean-Julien Rojer in the final, 6–4, 6–4.
In July 2007 Levy and Rajeev Ram competed together in doubles at Wimbledon, where they made it through the qualifying rounds and to the quarterfinals – Levy's best grand slam showing to date. On their way they defeated 15th-seeded Martín García and Sebastián Prieto 7–6 (0), 6–7 (4), 7–6 (4), 6–7 (3), 10–8 in the third round. They lost in the quarters to No. 10 seeds Arnaud Clément and Michaël Llodra, 6–3, 6–2, 6–2.
In the men's final of the Israeli Championship in December 2007 Levy, who had won the title in 1997, 1999, and 2002, defeated Dekel Valtzer, 6–0, 6–1. By December, Levy had risen 125 places in 2007. His coach, Oded Jacob, said: "Levy suffered a very serious injury in 2001 from which some players have never managed to recover. He went through some very difficult years of physical and mental recuperation. I think he's recovered from that now, and I feel he's learned to come to terms with the fact that he's no longer No. 30 in the world. His goal now is to return to the top 100."
In December 2008 Levy claimed the fifth Israeli championship title of his career, beating Dudi Sela 6–4, 3–6, 7–5. "I won the match because I always believed I would", said Levy. In doubles Levy and Noam Okun lost in the finals to Andy Ram and Noam Behr, 6–1, 6–4.
Levy decided at the beginning of 2009 to enter slowly reduce his participation in singles tournaments, and put an emphasis on his doubles career with Noam Okun. But after his Davis Cup win in Sweden, he changed his plans. To prepare for the tie with Russia, he realized he had to once again stress his singles career, and while he kept playing doubles, he played singles anywhere possible.
Levy has played for Israel's Davis Cup team since 1998, with an 22–15 record through July 2009. In 2008 he played in a tie against Sweden, in which he was not victorious in the final and deciding match. However, he redeemed Israel and himself in 2009 against Sweden.
In September 2008 against the Peru Davis Cup team, after losing one match in singles to Luis Horna 7–5, 5–7, 7–6 (3), 6–3, Levy paired with Andy Ram to win the doubles tie 6–1, 6–1, 6–2, as Israel won 4–1.
In the 2009 World Group Playoffs in March 2009, Israel again faced Sweden. 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson defeated Levy in the opening match, 6–7 (3), 6–4, 7–5, 4–6, 8–6, in just under 4 hours, but Levy won the decisive final match against Andreas Vinciguerra in Vinciguerra's hometown of Malmö, Sweden, 6–4, 4–6, 6–4, 3–6, 8–6 in a marathon 3 hour, 44 minutes to lead the Israeli team to a come-from-behind 3–2 victory over the 7-time Davis Cup champion Swedes at Baltic Hall, allowing Israel to advance in the 2009 Davis Cup. In their 84-year Davis Cup history, the Swedes had never before lost a tie after holding a 2–1 lead.
"I had a coach who always told me that I'm a winner, and that I will always be one. The press labeled me as a loser when I wasn't doing well, and now they say I'm a winner. I know my worth, and I proved to myself that I can still win big matches", Levy said. He added: "Despite all the difficult years, scouring the globe to play in small tournaments with little success, I'm now experiencing a joy that has made it all worthwhile."
Israel (ranked 8th in the Davis Cup standings, with 5,394 points) hosted heavily favored Russia (which won in both 2002 and 2006, and was the top-ranked country in Davis Cup standings, with 27,897 points) in a Davis Cup quarterfinal tie in July 2009, on indoor hard courts at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Israel was represented by Levy, Dudi Sela, Jonathan Erlich, and Andy Ram. Russia's lineup consisted of Marat Safin (# 24 in the world; former world # 1), Igor Andreev (26), Igor Kunitsyn (35), and Mikhail Youzhny (44; former world # 8). "I believe we can do it against Russia", predicted Levy. The stage was set by Safin, who prior to the tie told the press: "With all due respect, Israel was lucky to get to the quarterfinals." The Israeli team's response was to beat the Russian team in each of their first three matches, thereby winning the tie. Levy was aware that the Russians thought he was incapable of playing at their level, let alone beating Russia's top player, Andreev. Levy, ranked what the Russian press referred to as a "lowly" world # 210, beat Andreev, world # 24, 6–4, 6–2, 4–6, 6–2 in the opening match. Levy said: "I had a feeling Andreev couldn't hurt me in any way, while I could do almost anything, and that made me very calm. I forced him to feel very uncomfortable on the court, lowering his confidence, and his game became more simple." Sela (# 33) followed by beating Russian Youzhny 3–6, 6–1, 6–0, 7–5. Israeli captain Eyal Ran likened his players to two fighter jets on court, saying: "I felt as if I had two F-16s out there today, they played amazingly well." The 10,500 spectators were the largest crowd ever for a tennis match in Israel.
The next day Israelis Ram and Erlich beat Safin and Kunitsyn 6–3, 6–4, 6–7 (3), 4–6, 6–4 in front of a boisterous crowd of over 10,000. Ran was carried shoulder-high around the Tel Aviv stadium, as the 10,000-strong crowd applauded. With the tie clinched for Israel, the reverse singles rubbers were "dead", and instead of best-of-five matches, best-of-three sets were played, with the outcomes of little to no importance. Israel wrapped up a 4–1 victory over Russia, as Levy defeated Kunitsyn 6–4, 4–6, 7–6 (2), while Sela retired with a wrist injury while down 3–4 in the first set against Andreev.
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