Israel happy with drawing Portugal

By
September 22, 2011 14:00

Davis Cup players are brimming with confidence regarding the team’s chances of returning to the World Group playoffs.

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Yoni Erlich, Andy Ram

Yoni Erlich, Andy Ram_311. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

Israel’s Davis Cup players are brimming with confidence regarding the team’s chances of returning to the World Group playoffs after the blue-and-white was drawn Wednesday to host Portugal in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group I next year.

The national team’s dreams of playing in the World Group for the fourth time in five years were dashed by Canada on Sunday, but Israel has already got its hopes up of regaining a place among the world top-16 nations for 2013 after it was given a first round bye in next year’s Group I and was drawn to face a mediocre Portugal side for a place in the playoffs.

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Portugal is led by Rui Machado, ranked No. 61 in the world, with Frederico Gil (100) the team’s No. 2 player. Machado and Gil led Portugal to a 4-1 win over the Slovak Republic in the first round of Group I this year, before being thrashed 5-0 by Roger Federer’s Switzerland in the second round.

“Portugal has some good players, but we need to beat them at home,” Andy Ram said.

“I’m really happy that we will once more be playing in front of the best fans in the world. It will certainly be a very interesting weekend of tennis.”

Dudi Sela, who beat Gil in the first round of Wimbledon this year, is also confident that the blue-and-white will be able to get the better of Portugal in what will be Israel’s fourth straight home tie.

“This is a pretty good draw,” he said. “They have two top- 100 players, but they both prefer to play on slow courts. We can, and should, beat them at home.”

The Group I second round ties aren’t scheduled to take place until next April, but with both Israel and Portugal being given a first-round bye, their meeting will likely be brought forward to the weekend of February 10-12.


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