Israel’s Fed Cup team maintained its Europe/Africa Zone Group I status on Saturday after defeating Slovenia 2-1 in Budapest, Hungary, to finish Pool C in second place with a 2-1 record.
After failing to take a single set in a 3-0 defeat to Ukraine in its opening tie, Israel bounced back to beat both Austria and Slovenia 2-1, with Shahar Pe’er carrying the team on her shoulders.
Pe’er convincingly won her singles matches on Thursday and Saturday while also teaming up with Julia Glushko to triumph in the two decisive doubles encounters.
“I’m happy we won and I’m very tired,” said Pe’er. “Julia deserves a lot of credit for playing so well in the doubles after a tough singles match earlier in the day. We beat some good teams to finish the pool in second place.
“Our goal was to remain in Group I and it’s excellent that we achieved it.”
Ukraine ended Pool C with a 3-0 record to advance to a tie for a place in the World Group II playoffs. But Israel can at least console itself in the knowledge that it avoided a playoff against relegation to Europe/Africa Zone Group II, which seemed like a possibility following the initial defeat to the Ukrainians.
Saturday’s tie got off to a disappointing start for the blue-and-white after Glushko (ranked No. 90) lost for the third time in three singles matches in Budapest, falling 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 at the hands of Dalila Jakupovic (276).
However, Pe’er (86) made quick work of Masa Zec-Peskiric (265), winning 6-1, 6-2, before combining forces with Glushko to defeat Jakupovic and Andreja Klepac 6-4, 7-5 in doubles.
Elsewhere, Dudi Sela squandered an outstanding opportunity to reach his first ATP Tour semifinal in two years on Friday, losing 6-4, 6-3 to world No. 358 Bjorn Phau in the last eight of the Zagreb Indoors.
After failing to advance to a single quarterfinal in 2013, Sela (78) was playing in the last-eight of a tournament for the second time in three events this year.
However, he will nevertheless be bitterly frustrated at losing to the 34-year-old German in 69 minutes, still leaving him without a semifinal appearance in an ATP Tour event since he made the last-four in Delray Beach, Florida back in February 2012.
Sela will look to rebound from the disappointment when he takes part in the tournament in Memphis this week.