Israel’s hopes of climbing out of Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group I suffered a
devastating blow in Eilat on Thursday, with the national team losing 2-1 to
Romania in its second Pool C tie.
Julia Glushko, ranked No. 181 in the
world, gave Israel an ideal start with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Cristina Dinu (244),
but the tie would be decided in a doubles encounter after Shahar Pe’er (91)
dropped to a 6-2, 7-6 (3) defeat to Sorana Cirstea (27), squandering a 4-0 lead
in the second set.
Pe’er and Glushko also teamed-up in the doubles, but
they crashed to an emphatic 6- 2, 6-1 loss to Cirstea and Raluca Olaru in the
On Friday, Israel faces Poland’s Radwanska sisters,
world No. 5 Agnieszka and Urszula (37), and will need to record a stunning upset
as well as hope for an unlikely Romanian defeat at the hands of the weak Turkey
to have any real chance of winning Pool C.
Only the pool winner will
progress to a tie on Saturday against the first-place finisher in Pool A for a
berth in April’s World Group II playoffs.
Elsewhere, Rafa Nadal overcame
a slow start to beat Argentine Federico Delbonis 6- 3, 6-2 and advance to the
third round of the Chilean Open with his first singles victory in seven months
Nadal lost his serve in the first game but quickly hit
back, taking command of the match and winning the first set in 50 minutes at the
Pacific resort city of Vina del Mar.
The French Open champion seemed
surprised when Delbonis took a 2-0 lead, but with some fierce shots he put
things in their place.
The former world number one began to vary his game
and showed greater mobility in a one-sided second set which he wrapped up in 38
“I feel happy to be playing singles again. It’s been an
important day for me,” Nadal told local television after the match. “I’m happy
the knee responded well.”
The 26-year-old Nadal, whose plan to return at
the end of 2012 was delayed due to illness, will continue playing on his
favorite clay surface at two other Latin American events this month, the Brazil
Open in Sao Paulo next week and the Mexico Open in Acapulco from February
25.Reuters contributed to this report