After being part of Roger Federer’s farewell at the Laver Cup, Novak Djokovic will be part of another last dance at the Tel Aviv Open this week.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion is set to team up in doubles with Israeli veteran Jonathan Erlich, the only player with whom Djokovic has won a doubles title in his career.
It will 45-year-old Erlich’s final event before he retires.
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Who is Jonathan Erlich?

Erlich is probably not a familiar name to most tennis fans. He is a doubles specialist who has only played 12 singles matches in his career on the ATP Tour.
He has played nearly 900 doubles matches and reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2008. He has won 22 titles, the biggest of which was the Australian Open in 2008 with Andy Ram.
His first ATP Tour doubles event was in Newport in 2000 and 10 years later he teamed up with Djokovic to win at Queen’s.

Why is Djokovic playing doubles with Erlich?

Djokovic has played doubles at all four Grand Slams as well as the Olympics, but the only tournament he has won was with Erlich.
The pair partnered up in 2010 when Djokovic was ranked No. 3 in the world in singles. It has not been revealed how the partnership came about, but perhaps the connection started at the 2008 Australian Open when Erlich won the doubles title and Djokovic won his first Grand Slam singles title.
Djokovic posted a video to confirm he is looking forward to being part of Erlich’s farewell.
"I know this is going to be your last tournament," said the former world No. 1.
"The best memory of my life in doubles was with you. You gave me the pleasure of winning the only doubles title of my life in Queen's.
"You've always been very friendly towards me and towards my team. Everybody loves you and everybody will miss you on the tour. I look forward to seeing you in Tel Aviv in your 'last dance'."

Novak Djokovic (R) and Jonathan Erlich celebrate winning Queen's in 2010

Image credit: Getty Images

Djokovic and Erlich beat British pair Jamie Delgado and Jonathan Marray in their first match together at Queen’s. They then beat Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares – who would go on to reach No. 1 and No. 2 in the doubles world rankings respectively - before coming from a set down to beat Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman.
They followed up with a win over eighth seeds Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra and then sealed the title by beating Karol Beck and David Skoch in the final.
“First of all I want to thank Novak, he wanted to play with me,” said Erlich.
“He’s a good friend, it has been an honour and I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
It was the first grass title of Djokovic’s career in singles or doubles.
“It’s important to me,” said the former world No. 1. “I was lucky to be playing with one of the best players in the world.”

How much doubles has Djokovic played in his career?

Djokovic has played doubles sporadically, often once or twice a season.
His last doubles match was at the Davis Cup last November. He also played with fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic at the Paris Masters last year and partnered long-time friend Carlos Gomez-Herrera on grass in Mallorca, making the final.

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He also made the final in Adelaide in 2007 with Radek Stepanek.
Djokovic has not played doubles at a Grand Slam since the 2007 Australian Open. The year before he played doubles at all four majors, winning just one match at Wimbledon with Daniele Bracciali.

What's left of 2022 season for Djokovic?

The Tel Aviv Open will be Djokovic’s first ranking event since winning Wimbledon in July.
He is the top seed and will be joined in the draw by former US Open champions Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic.
Djokovic missed the entire hard-court summer as he was unable to enter Canada or the United States due to being unvaccinated, and has dropped down to No. 7 in the world rankings.
At the Laver Cup he revealed he is set to play Tel Aviv this week followed by an event in Kazakhstan and then the Paris Masters at the end of October.
As it stands he is qualified for the ATP Finals despite not being in the top eight in the race as Grand Slam winners qualify as long as they are in the top 20.

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However, his schedule could be impacted by a wrist injury, which he revealed he has been managing after his singles loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime.
"I have been struggling with my right wrist for the last four, five days, to be honest. I have been keeping it under control," he said. "The two matches yesterday probably had an effect. Today was not easy. I couldn't serve as fast or as accurately as I would like to. That has affected the whole game. Could be not playing matches almost three months, and then conditions here are such that the balls are really big and slow. You always have to generate a lot of wrist action and speed, which could be the case why I have been feeling soreness."
Djokovic will not get the chance to compete at the Davis Cup finals in Malaga as Serbia did not qualify.
Attention will instead turn after the ATP Finals to whether Djokovic will play in Australia in 2023 after being denied a visa earlier this year because of his vaccination status.
"It’s really not in my hands right now,” Djokovic said at the Laver Cup. “So I’m hoping I will get some positive news.”
Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after his visa was revoked.
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