Peer Australian Open .
(photo credit: AP)
Israel’s hope of making a quick return to the Fed Cup’s World Group II suffered a significant blow on Wednesday with a 2-1 defeat to Slovenia in its Europe/Africa Zone Group I opener in Estoril, Portugal.
The national team will have to win its remaining two ties in the next couple of days to have any chance of finishing top of its group, starting on Thursday against the Bulgarians.
The winner of the group will advance to a play-off against one of the three other first-place finishers on Saturday, with a victory in that tie booking the team’s place in the World Group II play-offs to be held on April 24-25.
On Wednesday, Israel lost its fifth straight Fed Cup tie and looked further than ever from returning to the World Group where it played just two years ago.
In the first match of the day, Julia Glushko (314) lost 7-5, 6-1 to Katarina Srebotnik (427), who was ranked as high as No. 20 in the world two years ago. Shahar Pe’er (22) tied the encounter with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Polona Hercog (63), sending the tie to a decisive doubles match.
Pe’er and Glushko trailed from the start of the match against Hercog and Srebotnik and fell to a 6-1, 7-6 (7) defeat, which seriously complicates Israel’s situation in the group.
“Our goal was to win, but sadly that didn’t happen,” Pe’er said. “I’m pleased with the way I played, but it is now going to be very difficult to progress from this group.”
Bulgaria lost 2-0 to the Netherlands on Wednesday in the other tie in the group and should not pose too much of a threat to Israel on Thursday.
Bulgaria’s highest ranked player is Tsvetana Pironkova (112) and she is joined on the team by Dia Evtimova (263), Elitsa Kostova (350) and Biljana Pawlowa-Dimitrova (857).
Israel faces the Netherlands in its final group tie on Friday.
defeat to Slovenia was very disappointing,” captain Lior Mor said.
“This was a meeting between the two best teams in the group and has
significantly reduced our chances of progressing.”