Israel Fed Cup captain Amos Mansdorf spoke confidently about his team’s chances of advancing to the World Group II playoffs ahead of this week’s Europe/Africa Zone Group I ties in Budapest, Hungary.
However, following the 3-0 defeat to Ukraine in the national team’s Pool C opener on Wednesday, Mansdorf should probably be more worried about his side being relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II.
Israel was thoroughly outplayed by Ukraine, with Shahar Pe’er and Julia Glushko both losing their singles matches in straight sets before teaming-up to be beaten in the doubles encounter in two sets as well.
Glushko, ranked No. 90 in the world, was beaten 6-2, 7-6 by Nadiya Kichenok (103) in the first match of the day, squandering five set points in the second set.
Pe’er (86) was outclassed by Elina Svitolina (39) in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat. Pe’er and Glushko then joined forces to lose in the doubles 6-3, 6-1 in 65 minutes to Ukraine’s pairing of Olga Savchuk and Lyudmyla Kichenok.
“Shahar’s match was disappointing, but it is hardly surprising because she’s not in top form and was facing an excellent player,” Mansdorf said. “We missed a chance in Julia’s match. She had set points but couldn’t convert them.”
Israel will hope to regroup when it faces Austria on Thursday before it plays Slovenia in its final pool tie on Saturday.
Austria, which thrashed Slovenia 3-0 on Wednesday, is led by Yvonne Meusburger (38), with the team also including Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (81) and Tamira Paszek and Sandra Klemenschits, who played in the doubles on Wednesday.
Only the winner of the pool will be drawn to play-off against the winner of Pool C or Pool D to determine which nation progresses to the World Group II play-offs in April.
The bottom-placed nation will also contest a play-off, the loser of which will be relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2015.
“We lost 3-0 so the first day was clearly not a success,” said a disappointed Pe’er. “We played against a very good team and knew it would be tough. We both gave our best. We still have two more ties to play so nothing is over yet. We are looking forward to face Austria.”
In other tennis news, Dudi Sela (78) advanced to the second round of the Zagreb Indoors tournament on Wednesday, beating Lukos Rosol (49) 6-3, 7-6.
Sela will be aiming to reach his second quarterfinal in three tournaments this year when he faces Lukas Lacko (102) on Thursday